The numbers are in from this year's Polar Plunge, and Rockport Rotary raised a total of $1,915 to raise awareness and fight polio. 

The Rockport Rotary members were among more than 250 Rotarians and others who plunged into the icy waters of Long Beach in Gloucester as part of the Rotary District 7930’s seventh annual Polar Plunge on February 4, 2017.

Rockport Rotary is part of an umbrella Rotary Foundation, a humanitarian service organization with nearly 34,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. Combined Rotary clubs have raised more than $55,000 this year which will be matched 2:1 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

The Rotary effort will pay for over a quarter of a million polio vaccines — at just 60 cents per vaccine — for children worldwide. This year’s event added to the over $510,000 raised by local Rotary clubs since the Polar Plunge began seven years ago.

“If you want to feel alive, do the Polar Plunge to end polio,” Rockport Rotarian's largest contributor, Bob Gillis, said. 

Rotary made polio eradication its top priority in 1985. Since 1988, the number of polio cases has been reduced by 99.9%. The Americas were declared free from polio in 1994, the Western Pacific region in 2000, and Europe in 2002. A highly infectious disease, polio still strikes children mainly under the age of 5 in parts of Africa and South Asia. Polio can cause paralysis and sometimes death. 

In the fight to eradicate polio, Rotary has contributed $1.2 billion, and its members have logged countless volunteer hours to help immunize more than 2 billion children in 122 countries. Case numbers of the disease have never been lower, and only three countries — Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan — have yet to stop the transmission.