One hike, one goal: An end to polio

Crissy Wallace, a member of the Lake Elsinore Rotary Club in California, began a 2, 658 mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail on April 21. The 26-year-old is on a mission to raise $1 million for Rotary International's eradication of Polio program. It will take a little over six months to complete the 2,658-mile Pacific Crest Trail hike.

Wallace arrived in Ashland on Tuesday at the trail near the Mount Ashland summit. She was hosted that evening in the home of Dennis and Kathy Cooper who are members of The Ashland Rotary Club. Wallace made a brief presentation regarding her project at the Thursday Rotary Club meeting. The club will be donating $2,000, in her honor to Rotary International's PolioPlus program.

In February 2007 Wallace returned from a polio immunization trip to Kano, Nigeria.

"I was fortunate enough to participate in an Immunization Plus Day for Rotary International in Kano, Nigeria," Wallace said. "Here in America, children live without the threat of polio but in Kano, Nigeria, children are suffering daily from this silent crippler."

Despite progress in reducing the incidence of polio, it still exists. Polio will continue to threaten children everywhere as long as it exists somewhere. Before eradication efforts began in 1988, polio paralyzed more than 1,000 children each day, which totaled about 350,000 children annually, according to a Rotary Club press release. Through the global efforts of Rotary International's Polio Plus Program, the incidence of polio has since dramatically declined by more than 99 percent. Only four polio endemic countries remain; Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nigeria.

"I want to see the polio virus 100 percent eradicated," Wallace said. "It only takes 60 cents to vaccinate one child against this virus. My goal is to raise $1,000,000 for the Rotary Foundation's Polio Plus fund."

"As a club we are very proud of Crissy. If every Rotarian and every club along the Pacific Crest Trail sponsored this young woman, she would be a long way in seeing this vision realized," said Pat Clary, president of the Lake Elsinore Rotary Club. "Not everyone has six and a half months that they can carve out of their lives to do a walk such as this, but Crissy can, and is. It would be wonderful if every Rotarian and every Rotary Club got behind her. Together we can make a difference."

The Pacific Crest Trail runs from Mexico to Canada. Wallace's hike begins at the Mexico-U.S. border at Campo, California and ends in Manning Provincial Park, British Columbia. The trail runs through California, Oregon and Washington. Some of the highlights of the trail include the Mojave Desert, Yosemite National Park, the Sierra Nevada, and the Cascades (including Mt. Shasta, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Rainier.)

While hiking the trail in one attempt, as opposed to section hiking where the individual hikes the trail over sections over several years, Wallace plans to stop at as many Rotary clubs and towns along the way to spread the word about Rotary and the current state of polio in the world and the efforts Rotary International has put forth.

Wallace, 25, graduated from University of California at Irvine with a bachelors of arts in Cognitive Psychology. Upon completion of her degree she backpacked through Europe for one year and returned home with the ambition to make a difference in the lives of children. Her parents Steve and Vicky Wallace, also Lake Elsinore Rotarians, have been the cornerstone to her efforts and she would not have been able to attempt this hike without them. After the hike Wallace plans to continue her efforts with Rotary International as well as return to school to pursue higher education.

There are two ways people can contribute to Wallace's quest. The first option is to donate by mail. Checks should be made payable to The Rotary Foundation and mailed to: Pacific Crest Trail Hike, Crissy Wallace, PO Box 2108, Lake Elsinore, CA 92531. The second option is to visit Wallace's Web site at . Click on the link "How You Can Help" and then select "Donations."

For more information about Rotary International visit . For more information about District 5330 visit . For information about the Lake Elsinore Rotary Club visit . For more information about the Pacific Crest Trail visit .

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