Seven-year-old Mazey Robinson sits in front of her collection of 850 empties destined for the Rotary Club of Haliburton's Bottle Drive on Sept. 29 at the Haliburton Beer Store. Scheduled from about 10 a.m. until close to 3:30 p.m. this event encourages the public to donate empties. It is part of an effort to eliminate polio worldwide which is part of the Rotary International Polio Plus campaign. All it takes is six empties or 60 cents to purchase one vaccine./Submitted by Kim Hicks

Family effort shines light on Rotary’s battle to eradicate polio

By Darren Lum

Published Sept. 18 2018

Seven-year-old Mazey Robinson of Lochlin beams proudly sitting in a swivel chair at the Echo office answering questions about how she and her family have collected 850 empty bottles and cans for the upcoming Haliburton Rotary Bottle Drive from 10 a.m. to close to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday Sept. 29 at the Haliburton Beer Store.

The drive which has been run by the local club for the past six years with the help of the local Beer Store is part of Rotary International’s campaign Polio Plus a commitment dating back to 1985 to eradicate polio worldwide. Rotarian Richard van Nood said there were more than 350000 cases of polio reported back when Polio Plus started and this year so far there have been only 15 reported cases of polio in two countries.

With every six empties or 60 cents equal to one vaccine Mazey will be responsible for 141 vaccinations. She’s proud of this achievement having surpassed her initial goal to collect enough empties to purchase 34 vaccines.

This year’s bottle drive is being boosted thanks to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which is helping Rotary International by donating $2 for every $1 raised to eliminate polio. This brings Mazey’s contribution to 423 vaccinations.

“Not bad for a seven-year-old” van Nood wrote in an email.

Mazey’s mother Kim Hicks appreciated how her daughter and the family could be part of this positive change in the world.

“Potentially polio could be eradicated during my daughter’s childhood. That’s pretty phenomenal and the fact that she could be part of that is kind of a legacy” she said.

She adds it’s amazing to her that only 60 cents can mean so much to someone.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said polio or poliomyeltis is a crippling and potentially deadly infectious disease caused by the poliovirus. The virus spreads from person to person and can invade an infected person’s brain and spinal cord causing paralysis. Paralysis is the most severe symptom associated with polio because it can lead to permanent disability and death.

The success Hicks said is rooted in the support from family friends and the community.

The Stuart Baker Elementary School Grade 3 student and her dad Paul first went down their road steps from their Lochlin home and picked up trash sorting out the empties from what they could find. Then they enlisted the help of friends and family each for six empties who also asked others.

Hicks adds among the best things to happen during this experience was raising the awareness of Polio Plus among the public.

She adds they’ve already discussed doing it again next year.

Mazey is proud of what she has been able to achieve.

“Even if you’re small you can do something big” she said.