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Students join Rotary International to raise funds for polio vaccinations

JULIAN CAVAZOS

By JULIAN CAVAZOS
March 31, 2010 at midnight
Updated April 4, 2010 at 11:05 p.m.

Memorial High School teacher Ben Sheeran, right, laughs with student Alex Davis,  left, as they  get their haircut.  Alex and Sheeran offered to get a haircut if Memorial High School could raise $1,000 for vaccinations to eradicate polio. Behind them are Rachel Galvan, who cut Sheeran's hair, and teacher David Clemons, who cut Alex's hair.

Memorial High School teacher Ben Sheeran, right, laughs with student Alex Davis, left, as they get their haircut. Alex and Sheeran offered to get a haircut if Memorial High School could raise $1,000 for vaccinations to eradicate polio. Behind them are Rachel Galvan, who cut Sheeran's hair, and teacher David Clemons, who cut Alex's hair.

The buzz of the clippers forced Alex Davis' long curly hair to softly drift down the the floor.

His hair that at one time hung down to his shoulders is now about an inch long all around.

"How does it look?" Alex asked his teacher, Ben Sheeran.

"It looks good," Sheeran answered.

Alex - and Sheeran- both offered to get their heads buzzed if the Interact Club raised $1,000 for vaccinations to eradicate polio.

Both of their haircuts aired live throughout the Memorial High School Senior Campus Thursday morning.

"I'm glad I did it," Alex said, whose hair had not been that short since fifth grade. "It was for a worthy cause."

Using manila envelopes, the Interact Club, who perform community service throughout the year, went door-to-door at school to collect change from students for their cause.

"It's good because you see the goodness in people, the selflessness and everything to really come out and help," said Richard Cano, an Interact Club member who helped collect money. "The satisfaction of helping someone is a really good feeling overall."

Polio is a highly infectious disease that enters through the mouth and affects the nervous system.

In 1985, there were 350,000 cases of polio in 125 countries, such as Mexico.

Today, there are only four endemic countries, such as Pakistan and India.

The best way to prevent polio is by taking a vaccine, according to familydoctor.org.

It can cause total paralysis in a matter of a hours.

With polio vaccines costing 10 cents a dose, the $1,000 raised by the club will save 10,000 children, Sheeran said.

"Polio is almost at the verge of being eradicated on the planet. Polio is active in India, Afghanistan and Nigeria. We're doing our best to help."

The club also received donations from community members and businesses. By the end of the day, the students reached their monetary goal.

The money they raised will also be matched by Northside Rotary of Victoria, Rotary International, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Sheeran said.

Combined with the other rotaries and the Gates foundation, the amount raised will be $5,000. Hence, 50,000 lives will be saved, Sheeran said.

Rachel Galvan, a club member, said she felt good helping people half a world away.

"I think it's just really cool to be able to help out people that are so many miles away from you," Rachel said. "It's so inspiring. We heard lectures about polio, and it was really eye-opening to see what people go through, and it's really sad."


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