ODESSA, Texas (Big 2/FOX 24) – “Be Our Change” is our positive, inspirational segment. Rotarians spend a lot of time giving back to our community. They’ve also played a significant role in fighting polio. It turns out there are a lot of similarities from that epidemic to what we’re going through today.
“Polio back in the 1950s was a very devastating disease; it crippled children,” said Craig Van Amburgh, Odessa Rotary Club Past President.
“At one time, you had wards of people who were in iron lungs because that’s the only way they could breathe,” said Charles Cotten, Greater Odessa Rotary Foundation Chairman
“I think most of us remember taking the vaccine for it,” said Jeff Woltz, Odessa Rotary Club President.
Polio was once one of the most feared diseases in the United States.
“As an organization, our primary purpose since 1985 has been the elimination of polio as a disease,” said Cotten.
Many find parallels between the great polio epidemic and today’s coronavirus. Both are highly contagious viruses that can be deadly.
“We’re this close. We’re very, very close to being able to say it is eradicated,” said Van Amburgh.
“Making young people aware of Rotary is important to me,” said Shawna Orona, Odessa Rotary Club President-Elect.
Rotary members also talked to us about learning from one another.
“The reputation is that it is an older person club. I think it even used to be a men’s only club for a long time until women were allowed to join,” said Orona.
“Young people have new dynamic ideas of how they want to pick the town up and carry it forward,” said Bill Nyborg, Greater Odessa Rotary Club President.
“We hear a lot about millennials and how they want to be involved and make a difference. Rotary is a place where they can do that,” said Van Amburgh.
Their one goal is to help in any way they can.”We all come in the room with a different idea, a different perspective, but we’re all working toward the same goal and trying to achieve it,” said Nyborg.
“There are always people in need, and this is a good way to learn how to be able to give aid to different people within your community,” said Woltz.
“If you want to stay here and make Odessa your home, contribute to it, and that gives you a sense of pride to be loyal to your hometown,” said Orona.
Many of the members have also played a role by making masks and shields for our frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic.