I n a video message to Rotarians, Bill Gates, cochair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, thanked Rotarians for their hard work in the effort to eradicate polio and congratulated Rotary for surpassing the halfway point in meeting Rotary's US$200 Million Challenge.

"The work you're doing to raise funds for the program is critical, especially given the tight government budgets and increasing costs for a very aggressive polio program," Gates said. "Your work as advocates is also very important. We need to keep this fight high on the world's list of priorities."

Rotary has been a leader in the fight against polio since the launch of the PolioPlus program in 1985. Recently, the Gates Foundation awarded two grants totaling $355 million to Rotary in support of its work in eradicating the disease. In response, Rotary pledged to raise $200 million. To date, Rotary has raised $117.5 million.