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Fund raising efforts reaches new heights!

By Leonie James

To raise funds for our fight to eradicate Polio a group of very energetic Rotarians and supporters climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge in an effort to break the world record for the most flags flown.

The “Coat Hanger” or “Iron Lung” (as the harbour bridge is referred to) officially opened in 1932. Tourists started climbing the bridge in 1998 with over 3 million visitors from more than 130 countries completing the climb since.

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

Despite the grueling four-hour trek up and down the bridge's steel arches, the 340 participants kept their good spirits and stood side-by-side waving 278 flags.

The massive turnout eclipsed Oprah Winfrey's world-record climb in 2011 when she climbed 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 AU$110,000. 

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.

Climbers from Taiwan, Australia, China, Japan, United States, and dozens of other countries and regions supported each other during the event. 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.

"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.

"It made me even prouder to be a Rotarian," said John Avakian from Healdsburg, California, USA. "It was an incredible experience of tremendous camaraderie."

"I think that's exactly what Rotary needs," said Nate Harimoto of Thousand Oaks, California, "a show of force from all around the world."


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