• Club Number 18039
  • District 9685
  • Chartered 1946

Club News

Ryde Launches New Satellite E-Club

On November 26, 2014, the Rotary Club of Ryde launched our brand new Satellite E-Club.  E-Clubs are a great new way to use the Internet to facilitate participation in Rotary for people who may not be able to attend the weekly meetings in person, but still wish to share in what Rotary offers them and their community. 

Access to the E-Club and information about joining are accessible from here: 

Rotary's Historic Bridge Climb In Sydney

During Friday's world record-breaking Sydney Harbour bridge climb, Rotary members raised enough money to protect 240,000 kids from polio. 

Despite the physically gruelling four-hour trek up and down the bridge's storied steel arches, the 340 participants kept their good spirits and stood side-by-side waving 278 flags. "When the helicopters were going around, you just felt like one great big nation," says Graeme Davies, district governor of the Rotary Club of Kincumber in Australia. 

The massive turnout eclipsed Oprah Winfrey's world-record climb in 2011 when she summited the bridge alongside 315 of her most ardent fans. But for Rotary members, the record paled in comparison to the experience and the opportunity to take a step closer to ending polio forever. The event raised 110,000 Australian dollars (US$102,300). "It made me even prouder to be a Rotarian," said John Avakian from Healdsburg, California, USA. "It was an incredible experience of tremendous camaraderie."

Rotary members cheered for each of the 26 groups as they made way through the lobby to the entrance of the bridge climb. Cloud cover hid the sun for most of the morning, but light broke through briefly as the climbers unfurled their flags, which had been tucked into their sleeves during the ascent. Helicopters circled overhead from a variety of local Sydney news stations. 

Climbers cheered, danced, and even broke into the "Wave" from 400 feet above ground. "I think that's exactly what Rotary needs," said Nate Harimoto of Thousand Oaks, California, "a show of force from all around the world." Climbers from Taiwan, Australia, China, Japan, United States, and dozens of other countries and regions supported each other during the event. They watched each other's backs, literally and figuratively, helping to steer climbers' heads away from hanging steel beams. 

For a day, their commitment to help others also became a commitment to help each other. And in the process, they raised enough money to show the world how committed they are to polio eradication. For Leilani Ross of Queensland, however, the climb was also about closing an important family chapter. She had long wanted to climb the bridge with her father, but didn't get the chance before he died a few years ago. "The friendliness is just wonderful," Ross said. "Everyone is very welcoming." 

Cheryl Drozdowicz, a former Youth Exchange student from Wisconsin, USA, who stayed with Ross 35 years ago, watched her go up. After the convention, Drozdowicz will travel back to Queensland for the first time since her program all those years ago. "I always feel like a piece of my heart is still there," Drozdowicz said. 

Fondly known as the "Coat Hanger," the bridge officially opened in 1932. The bridge is also referred to as the "Iron Lung" because it employed so many Australians during the Great Depression. Tourists began climbing the bridge in 1998, which is now considered a tourist must with over 3 million visitors from more than 130 countries in that time. 

Adam Ross 

Rotary News

Photo Credit: Rotary International/Alyce Henson

Ryde Rotary Celebrates Excellence

The Rotary Club of Ryde held their annual Pride of Workmanship Awards on Tuesday night, to promote and celebrate excellence and dedication in the workplace.

The Awards were established in 1975 and enable employers to help employees achieve job satisfaction by publicly recognizing them for their efforts.  This year, Ryde hosted a diverse group of 6 deserving nominees, including a hospital clerk, a florist, a team leader at Ryde Council, a Policewoman, a volunteer ambassador and manager at Tebbutt Lodge.
The keynote speaker this year was Employment & Industrial Relations Specialist Lawyer, Shawn Skyring, Partner at Hunt and Hunt Lawyers North Ryde. He spoke of the importance of creating a supportive and productive work environment with the perfect balance of employee and employer responsibilities that allow everyone to be their best.  It was clearly evident on the night that the  nominating employers have found that balance, with a high calibre of nominees, each getting a special commendation and award to acknowledge their great work.

Congratulations to 2014 Pride of Workmanship awardees; Gail Wilson, Melissa Mayson, Paul Archer, DSC Morena Connell, Balvinder Young and Panos Marlassi. 

Photo Credits (Photo L to R) Shawn Skyring (Hunt & Hunt Lawyers North Ryde), Linda Hallett, Barry Hodge (City of Ryde), Melissa Mayson (Crazy About Flowers), Paul Archer (City of Ryde), Gail Wilson (Ryde Hospital Maternity Unit), Anna Winter (Midwifery Unit Manager, Ryde Hospital), Detective Senior Constable Morena Connell (Ryde Local Area Command, NSW Police Force), Superintendent John Duncan, Commander, Ryde Local Area Command), Balvinder Young (Ambassador & Volunteer, Royal Rehab), Adrian Hallett (President, Rotary Club of Ryde), Martin Aston (Vocational Chairman). Photo by David James

Paralympian Dennis Ogbe Defying Paralysis

Dennis Ogbe grips the discus in his right hand. He swings his arm and twists at the waist as far to the right as he can. With one move he snaps back, letting the saucer fly. Upper-body strength is important for any discus thrower, but for Ogbe, a Paralympian, it’s everything. 

At age three, Ogbe contracted malaria, and while receiving treatment at a clinic near his home in rural Nigeria, he became infected with the poliovirus. Paralyzed from the waist down, he was sent home in the arms of his mother. 

He credits his physical rehabilitation to a harsh form of therapy – the taunts of the other children in his village. After taking his crutches away, kids would dare him to take several steps forward before they would allow Ogbe to join in a game of soccer with them. Eventually, his right leg became stronger and he could walk without a wheelchair or crutches, but his left leg remained paralyzed. 

Ogbe, now a U.S. citizen, has made a name for himself in the international Paralympic community and holds the American records for discus and shot put. While competing, he earned a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky. Today he serves as an advocate for polio eradication and as an ambassador for the United Nations Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign to promote childhood immunizations. He spoke at Rotary’s World Polio Day: Making History event on 24 October in Chicago, which is where we caught up with him. 

“Whatever I do in this life, I hope and pray that it is going to inspire people,” he says. “I hope it challenges them: ‘If Dennis can do it, I can do it.’” 

THE ROTARIAN: What challenges did you face growing up with polio? 

OGBE: In Nigeria, people with disabilities are often cast away or encouraged to be beggars. Polio was evident everywhere, at the bus stops and on the streets. But my father wanted me to have a better life. He told me that he would not see one of his children on the streets, left to beg. He realized that an education would be my saving grace. Most people don’t think of school. In Nigeria, it’s often survival of the fittest. My father believed that in any disability, there’s always an ability. And he gave me the opportunity to figure out what mine was. 

TR: What was it that drew you to athletics? 

OGBE: When I was in school, I had to push myself to play sports. I tried tennis, high-jump, and basketball, but I walked with a big limp, making it difficult. At the time, the only sports available for people with disabilities were shot put, javelin, power-lifting, and track. I couldn’t participate in track because I couldn’t afford a better wheelchair. So I found heavy spare rods at auto shops and began to practice throwing. 

Eventually I began competing. I ended up throwing for Nigeria at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, Australia. There I met an assistant track and field coach for the USA. He must have seen something in me, because I was offered a partial sports scholarship to Bellarmine University, where I competed against able-bodied athletes. 

When I wasn’t studying or training, I was working five jobs to pay tuition. If I look at my life without sports, I wouldn’t be where I am today. The competitiveness in sports was the push I needed from the very beginning when I contracted polio. It gave me a goal to work toward. It was the mentality of “I can do more” that brought me to where I am today. 

TR: How does this competitive mentality help you in your work fighting polio? 

OGBE: My father always told me that it’s not how one starts that matters, it’s how one finishes. The end is still a hundred miles away, but I know one thing: When I am crossing that finish line, I want to be holding hands with the people who have helped me in my life. There have been many people who have gone out of their way to help me get to where I am today, and I owe it to them to finish strong. That’s how I feel about polio. It’s been a long fight, but we have many friends. I know if we continue to give it our best shot, we will finish this race on top.  

Megan Ferringer 

Adapted from a story in the April 2014 issue of The Rotarian. 

For Paralympian Dennis Ogbe, upper-body strength means everything after losing use of his left leg because of Polio

Moving doctor's office rescues women from breast cancer

In Tamil Nadu, India, two doctors, both members of the Rotary Club of Srirangam, discovered an alarming trend in the remote city outskirts of Trichy, women dying of breast cancer. 

Drs. K. Govindaraj and K.N. Srinivasan knew that much of the death and suffering could be avoided, and both were motivated by their personal experiences with the disease. Govindaraj watched his mother die of breast cancer a decade earlier, and helped found the Dr. K. Shantha Breast Cancer Foundation in her memory.  Srinivasan, an oncologist, witnessed unprecedented growth in the number of younger patients coming to his clinic with advanced stages of the disease. 

According to the National Cancer Registry of India, 20 to 40 women per 100,000 are suffering from breast cancer.  And because many women lack the resources to travel to the city, or the$50 fee for proper screening , the doctors needed a unique approach. During a trip to South Korea, Govindaraj saw a large van outfitted with X-ray equipment parked outside a mall, and thought a moving doctor’s office and lab -- or “mammobus” -- could overcome the challenges they faced. 

Through a Rotary global grant, the men were able to buy and outfit their own bus. Since April 2012 the Shantha Foundation’s mammobus, supported by local Rotarians and the Rotary Club of Rockville, Maryland, USA, has administered 2,500 free breast cancer screenings. Early stage cancer has been detected and treated in six women, and thousands have been taught how to conduct regular self-exams, an important means of early detection. 

“Women have started feeling that they have easy access to health without compromising their day-to-day work and earnings,” Srinivasan says. “Women come out to our health workers with their health-related problems and discuss freely about various aspects of health and diseases, not just about breast cancer.’’

The mammobus cost $34,000 and is equipped with a mammography machine, an ultrasonogram, and materials that teach the method and importance of self-exams. The Shantha Foundation maintains the vehicle and reaches out to nongovernmental organizations, women’s groups, and employers to arrange visits. The bus stops anywhere a large group of women congregate, with priority given to rural areas. The Srirangam club also helps line up visits and widely promotes the bus through various media.

“More and more clubs and NGOs want to participate and are booking the mammobus well in advance,” says Srinivasan. “We are already booked until the end of May.” 

Govindaraj says if something is detected during screening, the woman is given the choice to get a biopsy at the Shantha Foundation’s affiliated hospital, or to have the foundation arrange a biopsy with a local radiologist. If a biopsy proves malignant, the woman is advised to undergo treatment in a hospital in her own city or, if willing, to receive treatment at the Shantha Foundation hospital. Either way, the procedure is covered by government insurance. The foundation provides follow-up support and counseling for patients and families. 

Dr. Chenguttai Dheenan, a retired surgeon and member of the Rotary Club of Rockville, Maryland, USA, became involved in the project after he met a member from Tamil Nadu at Rotary’s international convention.  In addition to convincing his club to support the project, Dheenan, a lifelong member of the American Tamil Medical Association, secured a $5,000 donation from the association. 

“In many cases, this will be the first doctor these women have seen,” says Dheenan. “This venture is bringing life-saving detection right to their doorsteps.” 

Rotary members have also been lining up volunteers to ride on the bus and talk to the women about HIV/AIDS awareness and other health issues. Meanwhile, the doctors have been gathering medical data that will benefit universities in India and other countries, data that up to this point had not been available.

“I wish and pray for many more mammobuses in our country,” says Srinivasan. “Healthy women are the backbone of a community.” 

Arnold R. Grahl
Rotary News

Maryland, USA, Rotary members Christopher Puttock and Rachel Blair (left), pay a visit to the Mammobus last year to check on the project’s status. With them are Dr. K.N. Srinivasan (far right) and Mrs. Vijayalakshmi, who coordinates the bus’s schedule for the K Shantha Breast Cancer Foundation.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Rotary Club of Srirangam

Southeast Asia Region Declared Polio-Free

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) today congratulated the countries in the South-East Asia Region of the World Health Organization (WHO) on being certified polio-free, a historic milestone in the worldwide effort to end polio. The 11 countries in the region – Bangladesh, Bhutan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor Leste – are home to 1.8 billion people and represent the fourth of six WHO regions of the globe to become polio-free.

India, once deemed the most difficult place to end polio, recorded its last case on 13 January 2011, enabling completion of regional certification. Other countries such as Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bhutan have been polio-free and waiting for this day for more than 15 years.

“This is a momentous victory for the millions of health workers who have worked with governments, nongovernmental organizations, civil society and international partners to eradicate polio from the Region. It is a sign of what we can bequeath our children when we work together,” said Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director for the WHO South-East Asia Region.

Rotary, which has committed more than $1.2 billion to the global eradication effort, thanked health workers, governments, Rotary members and its partners in the GPEI at the official certification meeting in Delhi.

“I speak for every Rotarian when I say again what an honor it is to be a part of today’s events. We have beaten polio in South-East Asia, and now we must do the same in the rest of Asia and in Africa.
Our goal is so close, we can almost touch it,” said Rotary Foundation Chair D.K. Lee.

Rotary also received praise from Dr. Bruce Aylward, WHO assistant director-general for polio, emergencies and country collaboration. “I want to thank Rotary and their 150,000 members in the South-East Asia region for their tireless work to eliminate polio,” he said.

South-East Asia’s remarkable achievement in ending polio was made possible by unprecedented commitment from governments to hold high-quality vaccination campaigns that reached a cumulative total of 7.5 billion children over 17 years, thanks to the dedication of millions of community health workers and volunteers. Between 1995 and 2012, the polio program conducted 189 nationwide campaigns across the region and administered more than 13 billion doses of oral polio vaccine.

The region’s accomplishment marks a vital step toward the GPEI’s goal of delivering a polio-free world by 2018. Innovative approaches and new partners are driving global progress in a multi-year plan to stop transmission, improve immunization rates and make a lasting impact on child mortality. However, this progress is at risk unless polio is ended in the three countries where it has never been stopped: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria. Recent outbreaks in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa are stark reminders that polio anywhere is a threat everywhere.  Until polio is stopped in the remaining three endemic areas, all countries need to maintain sensitive surveillance and high immunization rates to rapidly detect any importation of poliovirus and minimize its impact. Now that 80 percent of the world’s population lives in regions certified polio-free, the goal of eradication is closer than ever.

District Training Schedule for 2014-15 Now Available

The District 9685 training schedule is now available for download on our Website. Please go to www.ryderotary.org.au/downloads and click on "2014-15 Training Schedule"

Paint Vandalism Removal this Sunday 1 December

Our graffiti removal project continues with a Paint Vandalism removal working bee this Sunday 9am at West Ryde (railway car park opposite the Mower Shop 11 Ryedale Road). We need all hands on deck for a big clean up for Christmas. Call organisers with any questions - Adrian Hallett - 0409 037 701 Charles Kilby - 0412 401 664

The Club fellowship weekend away is this weekend

This year’s Weekend Away is to the Park Ridge Retreat in Gerringong. Please contact Ron Taffa for details & RSVP as soon as possible. It will be a great weekend!
This hilltop village overlooks a great swathe of blue ocean that promises long days of sport and sunshine. This atmospheric town also has a taste for the finer things in life, including wines, great fishing and golf. There are seven courses in close proximity to Gerringong. Be sure to sample the wines at Crooked River Winery and browse through the Gerringong Heritage Museum. Don’t miss one of the best picnic spots around, at Boat Harbour Reserve, from where you can take a stroll along the rock platform.
Club activities may include: Kiama Coast Walk, Werri Beach, Crooked River Winery, Boolarng Nangamai Aboriginal Art & Culture Studio, Pottery at Old Toolijooa School.

Paint Vandalism Retreats in Ryde CBD

The Rotary Club of Ryde is participating in the state government sponsored paint vandalism clean-up day in October. President Adrian is a nominated organizer for our area and he is working hard to make the day a success in Ryde.

As part of his role, Adrian needs to identify suitable sites for work on the day. I accompanied him early last Saturday on a tour of the city’s known “black-spots”. I was amazed that we struggled to find suitable sites for work. That’s not to say that paint vandalism has ceased. We found enough isolated work to keep the club’s energetic squad in business but there was a marked absence of highly visible vandalism.

In particular, the Ryde CBD remains remarkably free from this blight. PP Charles Kilby has noted this on other occasions; if we persist, they desist!

We all know how a mayor of New York City once took this strategy, employed a competent police executive and executed tactics based on the strategy with no compromise. I have read that it was an outstanding success and I have been told by recent visitors that the city is a far cry from the New York of old.

Paint vandalism has no place in our community and we are providing a valuable community service in demonstrating a part of the solution.

Past President, Geoff Brennan


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