EVANSTON, Ill., U.S.A. (August. 21, 2013) – Internationally renowned Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen has joined the growing roster of public figures and celebrities participating in Rotary’s “This Close” public awareness campaign for polio eradication.
Yen, Asian superstar who gained world fame with Ip Man, Wu Xia and many other classics, will help Rotary achieve its goal of a polio-free world by raising his thumb and forefinger in the “this close” gesture in the ad with the tagline “we’re this close to ending polio.”
“I decided to become a Rotary ambassador for polio eradication because polio kills or paralyzes young children and Rotary is committed to ending this terrible disease worldwide,” Yen said. “I also learned that the world has never been so close to eradication of polio since the mid 80’s thanks to the vigorous efforts of Rotary International and its partners.”
The debut of Yen’s polio eradication spot is timely as an announcement at the Rotary International Convention in Lisbon, Portugal, in June set the stage for a bold new chapter in the partnership between Rotary and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the campaign for polio eradication. The Gates Foundation will match two-to-one, up to US$35 million per year, every dollar Rotary commits to reduce the funding shortfall for polio eradication through 2018. It will help provide world’s governments with the US$5.5 billion needed to finish the job and end polio forever.
The Rotary awareness campaign also features public figures and celebrities including Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, action movie star Jackie Chan, boxing great Manny Pacquiao, pop star Psy, golf legend Jack Nicklaus, conservationist Jane Goodall, premier violinist Itzhak Perlman, Grammy Award winners A.R. Rahman, Angelique Kidjo and Ziggy Marley, and peace advocate Queen Noor of Jordan.
Broadcast television commercials feature a mix of celebrities and non-celebrities around the world saying, “We are this close to making history. We are this close to changing the world. We are this close to ending polio—all we need is you.”
Polio eradication has been Rotary’s top priority for more than two decades. The international humanitarian service organization is a spearheading partner in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, along with the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF.
Rotary club members worldwide have contributed more than $1.2 billion and countless volunteer hours to the polio eradication effort. Great progress has been made, and the incidence of polio infection has plunged from about 350,000 cases in 1988 to 222 reported cases in 2012. More than two billion children have been immunized in 122 countries, preventing five million cases of paralysis and 250,000 pediatric deaths.