By Catherine Lankford, Rotary staff and former RC program specialist
My upcoming participation in El Tour de Tucson as part of Rotary’s Miles to End Polio team means a great deal to me on many levels.
My first introduction and connection to Rotary began in Mexico, Missouri, through my paternal grandfather, who was a member and president of the Rotary club in that community. I remember hearing stories from him about his weekly meetings, the work he did with his club, his commitment to polio eradication (both as a Rotarian and medical doctor), and the lifelong friends he made in Missouri and all over the world. My maternal grandmother was also recognized by that club with a Paul Harris Fellow for her outstanding work as an elementary school teacher and community member.
I began working at Rotary International in March of 2011 and feel fortunate to work for a company dedicated to making the world a better place. I was drawn to Rotary primarily because of our polio eradication efforts. The Miles to End Polio ride will mark the first time that I am directly impacting that effort and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it. It is also meaningful to me on a personal level.
In April of 2013, I broke multiple bones in my foot, and spent over 10 months in a walking boot and cast. I had surgery and went through seven months of subsequent physical therapy to learn to walk again and strengthen my muscles.
This was an incredibly trying experience for me, both physically and emotionally, as there were times that it was questionable whether I would be able to run or bike again. I can’t imagine a better way to close this chapter of my life than riding in El Tour de Tucson and raising money to ensure polio is eradicated and no one else has to suffer from this debilitating disease again.
Far and away, the best part of being on a bike again and training with Team Rotary (including my first ever 100 mile ride on 28 September!) is the instant gratitude I feel for the recovery that I had, the ability to be active, and the ride to end polio in Tucson. Gratitude is the attitude!
Lankford is one of six Rotary staff members who will join Rotary General Secretary John Hewko in biking El Tour de Tucson in Arizona in November to raise money for polio eradication. Read posts from other team members, and learn how you can support the team.