By Kelly Nolan
Special to The Rotarian

22 May 2006

During her visit to District 7230's New York City conference in April, Mia Farrow only had one parting request: That she could come back and celebrate with the group when polio is completely eradicated.

Though the award-winning actress has been linked with celebrities such as the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, and Woody Allen, she couldn't have been happier to pay tribute to New York and Bermuda Rotarians for their efforts in eradicating polio during the past 21 years.

"I'm so honored to be here to salute you in the work you've already done," says Farrow, who received Paul Harris Fellow Recognition from the district. "It's extraordinary. Because of the work you've done, we're now looking at the finish line to eradicate polio."

While Farrow has campaigned for the past several years to eradicate polio as an ambassador for UNICEF, District 7230 Rotarians have raised $850,000 since 1985 to help immunize 1.4 million children in developing countries.

Farrow says that she felt compelled to fight polio because of her personal experience with the crippling disease.

"Many people do not know that I was diagnosed with polio when I was 9 years old," Farrow explains. "I think the fact that I'm a survivor has really heightened my awareness and impacted the choices I've made. I know what it is like for these children to be stigmatized."

Furthermore, Farrow also has 13 children, including one adopted son, Thaddeus, who contracted polio and is paralyzed.

District 7230 Rotarians have also engaged in several other humanitarian projects of their own as well, including a water project in Honduras, delivering new computers in South Africa and, locally, setting up an AIDS clinic in New York City's Harlem neighborhood.

"Through the medical clinic we set up, we were able to significantly bring down the number of transmissions from mother to child in the area," says Mats Ingemanson, the district secretary.

The district's 42 clubs also continue to be avid fundraisers for the Gift of Life program, which helps children receive much needed heart surgeries, either by bringing them to the United States or funding the surgery in their own countries.

Look for an interview with Mia Farrow in the November 2006 issue of The Rotarian.

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