Narooma Rotary president walks to end polio

Narooma Rotary Club president Michael O’Connor will undertake a marathon walk to raise funds to continue the fight to eradicate polio and also to build a library in the Kenyan village of Rang’I Kenya.

This Sunday, October 23 at the Narooma Rotary Markets, the club will be launching its fundraising quest for the 1000km walk.

The club hopes to raise at least $10,000 from the walk to be shared between each project. The walk will be in March 2017 and will traverse 20 National Parks in Western Australia along the Bibbulmun Track.

Mr O’Connor and Rotary are asking that the good people of Narooma and its visitors to be generous, as they have always been for Rotary projects, and help to get this fundraising effort off to a good start.

This Sunday was chosen to launch the appeal for funds as the next day October 24 is World Polio Day.

“Rotary began the task of trying to rid the world of the scourge of polio and is now within a whisker of doing so,” he said. “It is hoped within a year or so to be able to declare that the world is free of polio.

“When that happens it is thanks to an Australian Rotarian who started the ball rolling on this task of getting rid of polio in the world.

“Education is also dear to the hearts of all Rotarians and building a Library in rural Kenya is to support the work of  Friends of Rang’I who have a school/orphanage and many other projects in the community of Rang’I in rural Kenya.”

The Narooma Rotary Club has the task of trying to rustle up as much money as possible to keep him motivated to put one foot in front of the other one for about six to seven weeks while carrying 22-24 kilogram pack on his back.

Mr O’Connor hopes visitors to the markets will come up and say hello and maybe find out what motivates him to walk 1000km.

He told Narooma News that he actually does not like walking but alas his back is no longer able to let him jog. It seems that the effects of his own brush with polio is now seeing his right side, in his non-medical terminology, starting to crumble and give way.

Just think if you donate 1 cent per kilometre that would be $10 and as Michael points out, you don’t need to be a mathematician to work out 2 cents per km is $20 and so on.

“Narooma Rotary hopes you come along and you can even try and lift a backpack weighing 22kg and see that walking with that is not just a simple walk in the park,” he said.

The Bibbulmun track where the walk will take place is quite isolated in parts and so mr O’Connor will have to carry a stove, tent, sleeping bag and food. He will walk from Albany in Western Australia to Perth and hopes to complete the walk within seven weeks.

He not only does not like walking, he is not keen on camping but hopes he will have stars in his eyes if Narooma Rotary can raise $10,000. Any more he tells us and he will be walking on cloud nine.

Some of you may already have noticed this small Irishman walking around Narooma, though he claims to be a very proud Australian and even barracks for them against Ireland in the rugby tests, walking as if he is on some mission. That at least what he tells us what passersby say when they watch his strange walking style.

He says when you do see him, don’t hesitate to stop and say hello and he will tell you about Narooma Rotary’s 1000km walk.  He tells us he is presently walking without a back pack to get his legs used to long distances as by the time he starts the walk he will hopefully have 3000 to 4000 kilometres , or even more, under his belt and should then be able to complete the walk safely.

He will shortly start wearing his backpack so you will see, according to him an even stranger sight and so photos accompanying this story will give you some idea what to expect to see over the coming months.