Hickory Rotary Club welcomed Caleb Summers (left) as the speaker at the club’s June 14th meeting. After winning a district speech contest speaking about the importance of volunteering and Rotary’s societal impact as a volunteer organization, Caleb decided that he wanted to help Rotary by offering his services as a volunteer. Caleb’s mother contacted our club using the contact form on our website to offer Caleb’s services.
Caleb Summers was born in Hickory on February 10, 2000. He recently graduated from Mt. View Elementary School where he was on the A-B Honor Roll. His favorite subjects are Math and Social Studies. He especially likes to learn about the Holocaust.
In his free time, Caleb has enjoyed playing basketball and football for the past seven years at Mt. View Recreation Center. He is also active in his local church.
Caleb became interested in the Polio Epidemic as a result of reading the book, Blue, authored by the Hickory native, Joyce Moyer Hostetter. When his Language Arts teacher announced that the topic for the school speech contest would be, “How Volunteers Made a Difference” Caleb began researching groups who made the greatest impact during the Polio Epidemic in Hickory in 1944. He immediately discovered that the Rotary Club was a very important instrument used to help eradicate Polio.
On March 15, 2012, Caleb won second place in the school speech contest speaking about the Rotary Club. On April 26, 2012, Caleb competed against 21 other Catawba County School students. While still singing the praises of the Rotary Club, he won FIRST place.
Recently, Caleb’s mom, Christine Summers, discussed with her children the importance of giving back to the community and the need to become a volunteer. Caleb adamantly proclaimed that HE wanted to be a part of the ROTARY CLUB!
Caleb’s message and delivery was so enthusiastically received by the club that he received a rare standing ovation by the members assembled, which is no easy feat, since, were it not for the Rotary banner, the demographic makeup of our club could be easily confused with an AARP meeting.
Transcript of Caleb’s Speech:
How the Rotary Club Made a Difference
Can you imagine how it would feel to have polio and not be able to walk because of this horrible disease? Or perhaps spending your whole life in an iron lung? You may not be aware but, when I think of polio, I think of The Rotary Club. I think of how the Rotary Club impacted the lives of many people during the polio epidemic in our very own Hickory, NC. Yet, we all know there are many other organizations that have helped with the epidemic. I think The Rotary Club has made the most impact throughout the years.
Paul P Harris founded The Club in Chicago on February of 1905. When Polio became an epidemic in 1944, the community and several doctors joined together and built the Emergency Infantile Paralysis Hospital in just 54 hours. Soon, the Rotarians realized the urgent need to help eradicate Polio. The Rotary Club and several doctors helped by volunteering to assist with people who had polio. Their goals and motivations were to band together and comfort the patients and to inspire many more citizens to come help aid others who were sick.
The Rotary Club has achieved many great goals since then and continues to improve the quality of life for Americans to this day. For example, in 1985, Rotary volunteers around the world embraced the fight against polio and the Polio Plus program was born. Polio Plus is the most ambitious program in Rotary’s history. Through that program more than one million Rotary Club volunteers have invested their time and resources to protect more than two billion children in 122 countries from polio. It has donated more than 700 million dollars.
The Rotary Club has not only volunteered to help people with polio but also on other major catastrophes, such as Hurricane Katrina, 9-11, The oil spill, and also Hurricane Hugo. I also spoke to Rotary Club volunteer Sandy Osborne of Charlotte, NC who shared with me that the Rotary Club has recently provided 900 dictionaries for third graders and sent volunteers and financial aid to the Habitat for Humanity. Also, since 9-11, they hold an annual golf tournament to grant scholarships to the children of firefighters and police officers. In more than 34,000 clubs worldwide, you’ll find members volunteering in communities to support education and job training, provide clean water, combat hunger and also, improve health and sanitation.
One Rotarian was heard to say, we, the Rotarians can change the face of this world through our zeal and enthusiasm to serve humanity. Let’s set an example for the world to follow us. I am proud to be a Rotarian.
Later, in 1952 Jonas Salk invented the Polio Vaccine. With only two tiny drops of this oral vaccine, this debilitating disease could be annihilated from all mankind. Thanks to Dr. Salk we are now a polio free nation. I hope by my sharing of how The Rotary Club impacted polio that I also inspired some of you to take a few hours off and to come and volunteer with The Rotary Club. And as Paul P Harris said, Personality has Power to Uplift, Power to Depress, Power to Curse, And Power to Bless.