What is Rotary?

Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.

In 1905, Paul Harris (a Chicago attorney) started the Rotary Club of Chicago so professionals with diverse backgrounds could exchange ideas, form meaningful, lifelong friendships, and give back to their communities.

Rotary now consists of an international community with 35,000+ clubs. The organization brings together leaders willing to step up and take on the world’s toughest challenges, locally and globally. Together, we promote peace, fight disease, provide clean water, sanitation, and hygiene, support mothers and children, support education, and grow local economies.

Ending Polio

Poliomyelitis (or “polio,” for short) is a paralyzing and potentially fatal viral disease that has circulated for thousands of years. Polio can strike people of any age, but it mainly affects children under five. Many who are infected show no symptoms — they may never know they have it, even as they pass it on to others. In a small proportion of those who are infected, however, the virus invades the nervous system. It progresses through the spinal cord and the brain until those stricken can suffer paralysis or death.

The eradication of polio is one of our longest standing and most significant efforts. Along with our partners, Rotary has helped immunize more than 2.5 billion children against polio in 122 countries. We have reduced polio cases by 99.9 percent worldwide and we won't stop until we end the disease for good.

Our partners in this global effort include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, the CDC, and the World Health Organization.