Gary C.K. Huang, president of Rotary International, lights the Rotary Flame to shine a light on Rotary’s world-wide efforts to eradicate polio. Photo from Rotary International

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 Just before twilight on April 14, Rotary International held a ceremonial lighting of the Rotary Flame at the international headquarters, 1560 Sherman Ave. The flame was lighted to celebrate the decades-long battle and ultimate victory over polio in India and shine a light on what is needed to eradicate the paralyzing disease worldwide.

Once the epicenter of the wild poliovirus, India, along with the World Health Organization’s Southeast Asia region, was officially declared polio-free in March 2014. In celebration of reaching this major milestone in the global effort to eradicate polio worldwide, the Rotary Club of Madras, India, launched the Rotary Flame on December 13, 2014, to help raise awareness of how close the world is to ending this vaccine preventable disease. 
 
The Rotary Flame has been carried to eight countries, including the three remaining polio-endemic nations – Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan – where Rotary clubs held light ceremonies. 
 
The journey of the Rotary Flame will end in São Paulo, Brazil during Rotary’s International Convention in June, after making its way through Colombo, Karachi, Kabul, Sydney, Taipei, Manila, London, Lagos, Evanston and Toronto.