Rotarians from three countries holding annual meet in Juneau

Whitehorse resident to talk about journey to raise polio awareness

Posted: Friday, May 18, 2007

More than 300 Rotarians from Alaska, the Yukon and even eastern Russia will gather at Centennial Hall this weekend for the annual District 5010 conference.

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The weekend, dubbed "Lead the Way," starts at 9 a.m. today at Centennial Hall and is open only to Rotarians.

Rotary International, a worldwide service organization, has more than 1.3 million members in 31,000 Rotary clubs in 165 countries. District 5010 includes 2,750 members in 76 clubs in Alaska, the Yukon and Siberia, a stretch of 6.5 million square miles.

This weekend's attendees include three from eastern Russia. Glenn Estess and Richard King, past Rotary International presidents, also will be on hand.

"Rotary really opens up a lot of friendships and contacts," said Juneau resident Craig Dahl, co-chairman of the district conference committee and a Rotarian since 1979.

"We may not see each other for a while, but all of a sudden you're visiting with somebody you worked with two years ago on a project."

"Lead The Way" will begin with the introduction of the district's 30 youth Rotary Exchange students. The kids will work this weekend on Project Playground, under way at Twin Lakes.

Whitehorse resident Ramesh Ferris will speak at the conference today about his 2008 Cycle to Walk cross-continent journey for polio awareness ( Ferris, a polio survivor, plans to leave Whitehorse on April 12, 2008, and hand-cycle all the way to Cape Spear, Newfoundland.

Independent of Ferris' campaign, Rotary International has raised millions for its PolioPlus polio eradication program. Robert Scott, chairman of the International PolioPlus Committee, is in town this weekend.

Michael Oleksa, a Roman Catholic priest from Anchorage, will lecture on "Communicating Across Cultures," and John Morgan, the Executive Director of the Luke Center in Oregon and the Pacific Program, will discuss "strategic thinking for community service."

• Korry Keeker can be reached at

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