Bill Crawford of Port St. Joe, a Rotarian of 39 years, has done a lot of great things with his life.
He’s been to Peru six times to build houses for the needy and visited Costa Rica where he delivered and built wheelchairs for handicapped children.
Last month, at 81 years of age, his latest adventure took him to Chandigarh, India where he and a group of Rotary International members administered polio vaccines to thousands of children.
The former district governor of Rotary District 6940 and former owner of the Gulf Sands Motel, Crawford jumped at the chance to be part of the process.
“If I can make a difference in their life, it will make a difference in mine,” he said.
Though no cases of polio have been reported in the area since January 2011, Crawford and company took the trip with the goal of having India be declared polio-free by January 2014.
In some countries, polio is still a widespread and crippling disease and Rotary International has been involved with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative since 1988 and is teamed with the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Crawford’s group teamed up with Rotary brothers and sisters from as far away as New Zealand, Australia, France and the U.S. Virgin Islands along with the local members of District 3080 in India who all came together to support the cause.
During the 12-day February trip to Chandigarh, Crawford and 27 fellow workers celebrated World Immunization Day.
On Feb. 25 they invited locals to bring their children to be immunized with two drops of an oral vaccine. The following day the group went door-to-door to immunize children who couldn’t come to their station.
Crawford’s group was one of many teams in India and during World Immunization Day 172 million children were treated across the country.
Another member of the group, Cynde Covington of Jacksonville, helped coordinate the trip for the Rotarians and praised the team for its hard work and dedication.
“It was one of the best teams we’ve ever had,” said Covington of the group, whose members ranged from 26 to 81 years of age.
This was the third trek to India for Covington and her husband.
She praised the locals for their continued education and awareness of the disease.
“The general population has become knowledgeable about the vaccine and how important it is,” she said. “This is a shining example of what happens when city leaders, religious leaders, business people and medical personnel all work together for the greater good.”
Crawford had his own reason for making the journey.
“When I come back, I can tell people more than what I read in the paper,” said Crawford. “Seeing it firsthand…it made a difference in my life.”