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Rotarians to hold 2010 district conference in Fallbrook - 250 expected to attend, tour area sites, and experience village life

When local resident Dave Breeding addressed Rotary Club of Fallbrook on July 1 as the organization’s new district governor for San Diego and Imperial counties, he had some exciting news to share with his hometown group.

“Fallbrook will be the site of the 2010 district conference for our region,” explained Breeding. “We will be hosting 250 visiting Rotarians in October.” The four-day event will take place October 21-24. When asked how Fallbrook came to be chosen as the conference site, Breeding explained the process.

“The district governor has the prerogative of choosing the site for our annual conference,” said Breeding. “I jumped at the opportunity to show off Fallbrook to Rotarians from all parts of San Diego and Imperial Counties and have them experience the beauty, culture, and surprises of our “friendly village.” Breeding said he and his committee are busy organizing activities, side trips, and other interesting sites for the visitors.

“We are making plans for a golf tournament, luncheon event with break-out sessions, a big barbecue evening, a gala masquerade ball, art and winery tours, and making lists of activities, restaurants, and more for our visitors,” he said.

At the Friday luncheon event, the conference will welcome notable speakers on the effort to eradicate polio, Rotary’s chosen legacy to the world. Breeding said the speakers will undoubtedly be well-received by his district.

“The San Diego/Imperial district has given in the millions to the eradication of polio,” said Breeding. “All three of these individuals are great speakers and each has a touching, personal story to tell about their unique role in eradicating polio from the face of the earth.”

Dr. Peter Salk, president of the Jonas Salk Foundation in La Jolla is scheduled to be one of the guest speakers at the luncheon. He is the son of Jonas Salk (1914-1995), a medical researcher and virologist best known for his discovery and development of the first safe and effective vaccine for polio.

Salk worked in his father’s laboratory at the Salk Institute from 1991 to 1995 on a project to develop an inactivated vaccine for HIV infection, and subsequently worked on the introduction of AIDS treatment programs in Africa and Asia. He is currently focused on the broader aspects of his father’s legacy and their implications relating to humanity’s present opportunities and challenges.

“Dr. Peter Salk has many tales to tell about his father, Dr. Jonas Salk, who invented the polio vaccine,” said Breeding.

Also scheduled to speak is Dr. Joe Serra, of Stockton, Calif., who has served as the orthopedic team physician for University of the Pacific, the Milwaukee Brewers farm system, and the Stockton Ports baseball team. Serra has volunteered his time as a volunteer orthopedic surgeon on eight trips to Malawi, Africa; primarily performing surgery on polio victims called “crawlers.” “Crawlers” are polio victims who have not received rehabilitative support and are found crawling on the ground to move from one place to another.

“[Serra] was instrumental in the fund raising efforts to launch the world-wide polio eradication effort,” said Breeding.

Ann Lee Hussey of South Berwick, Maine, will also speak to the Rotarians in attendance. Hussey, a polio survivor and Rotarian, has also dedicated herself to the eradication of polio on an international level. Hussey is the current chairperson of the Polio Survivors and Associates Rotarian Action Group and serves on the Reach Out to Africa Service Associates Subcommittee as a functional coordinator for health initiatives.

“Ann Lee Hussey is a polio survivor herself and he has traveled to India, Egypt, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Bangladesh to participate in 16 campaigns to immunize children against polio,” added Breeding.

According to Rotary International, “since 1988 the number of polio cases has been reduced from 350,000 each year to less than 2,000 in 2008. Polio remains endemic in four countries: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan. The Americas were declared free from polio in 1994, as well as the Western Pacific region in 2000, and Europe in 2002.”

Breeding said the latest information shows that, “there have only been 180 new cases in the world so far this year.” And that’s good news for Breeding, who knows only too well the devastating effects of the disease and how it affects lives.

“My mother was a polio victim and I learned to hate the disease as a child in the 1950s,” said Breeding. “The disease was part of my psyche. It was always on my mind.”

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