04/17/18 — Walking so that others might, too

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Walking so that others might, too

By Joey Pitchford
Published in News on April 17, 2018 5:50 AM

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People participating in the Walk to Wipe Out Polio sponsored by District 7720 Rotary Club make their second lap around the track at Wayne Community College Saturday. They will eventually make eight laps around the track to complete their 5k.

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The Goldsboro Sharks swim team, based out of The Goldsboro Family Y, begins the Walk to Wipe Out Polio 5k together Saturday at Wayne Community College. The team's coach, Lance Thornton, is a member of the Mount Olive Rotary Club.

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Dr. Bryson Bateman says a few words to kick off the Walk to Wipe Out Polio Saturday at Wayne Community College.

Although polio has been nearly wiped off the face of the planet, there are still people working around the world and right here at home to make sure the job is finished.

To that end, runners gathered Saturday for a walk to end polio at Wayne Community College, where a group of more than 30 people ran to raise money to further fund polio research.

Dr. Bryson Bateman, district polio chair for the Rotary District 7720 in eastern North Carolina, said that Rotary International has been working for decades to eradicate the disease.

"Rotary International first got involved with it in the early '80s, with grants to the Philippines, but it was in the mid-'80s that the organization was looking for the big thing to do," he said. "A fellow named John Seber, actually still in the fight, a research physician, he suggested to the Rotary International president that the thing we were looking for was to work toward the eradication of polio."

At the time, Bateman said, around half the world was developed enough that polio was no longer a concern to them -- the last recorded case of the disease in the U.S. was in 1979, for instance. Other parts of the developing world, however, had high rates of polio, with maybe one-third to one-half of the children in the country actually being vaccinated for the disease.

Locally, this was the fourth year that the Rotary club has sponsored the run, Bateman said. Beginning at the tennis courts, participants would run eight laps around Wayne Community College, stopping for water back at the courts when necessary.

The run itself began just before 10 a.m. The bulk of the participants came from the Goldsboro Family Y swim team, the Goldsboro Sharks, led by head coach Lance Thornton. Thornton is a member of the Mount Olive Rotary Club, and John Richards, CEO of the Family Y, is a member of the Three Eagles Rotary Club. Those connections are how the swim team ended up becoming a part of the polio run.

"We wanted our swim team to get involved in community efforts, especially with this disease, so brought about 35 swimmers, family members and siblings out here and we're just trying to raise some money," Thornton said. "The Mount Olive Rotary decided that, since I was going to bring my swim team, they wanted to sponsor our swimmers, so for every single person attending today, the Mount Olive Rotary is going to sponsor a $10 donation."

Those donations had equaled $360 by the time of the run, but the team intends to continue raising money to exceed $500, Thornton said. He is looking forward to bringing the team out to more community events in the future.

"Not only this event, but the team as a whole, we're looking to do as many outreach events as we can possibly do outside the walls of the Y," he said. "At the YMCA, we have many great events that we do run that the swim team is a part of, but we really want to get out into the community and help those in need."