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Marathon Man: Life as a Rotary District Governor, one year on

With my year as District Governor completed, I have one final engagement to carry out. When one door closes, another opens.
Martin Parnell presents a cheque July 3 at the Bike-a-thon fundraiser wrap-up, on behalf of Rotary District 5360.

On July 1 last year, I started my journey as Rotary District 5360 Governor. Part of the role was to visit the 45 Rotary clubs that are located in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, from Lacombe in the north, to Cardston in the south, to Banff in the west, and to Swift Current in the east.

In the fall, COVID was still going strong and my visits were made using Zoom. Clubs shared with me their plans for the year, but because of the pandemic they mostly involved virtual fundraisers and supporting members in their communities.

During the year, I had three district initiatives that I wanted to share with the clubs: Move for Polio, Rotary Day of Service, Secret 3k, and the District Conference. Move for Polio: End Polio Now, kicked off on July 1, 2021 and finished on Oct. 24, which is International Polio Day.

Rotary has been providing vaccinations to children for over 30 years, and we are now at the point where there are only two countries that had a polio case reported in the last three years, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Over the summer of 2021, members, families and friends ran, walked, swam, golfed, gardened, etc. and not only raised over $75,000, but also combined to cover 80,000 kilometres. That's twice around the globe!

The Rotary Day of Service was held on March 2 this year and the theme was “Empowering Women and Girls.” Over the last five years I’ve been involved with the Secret 3K Run/Walk and this was the first year that Rotary become an official partner. Members across the district headed out on a cold March evening in support of women and girls who run for freedom and equality. In total, 240 Rotarians and friends showed that were are stronger together.

The third event was the District Conference, which was held on Saturday May 14 at the Alliance church in Cochrane. Over 300 Rotarians, Rotaractors, Interactors and guests enjoyed a variety of speakers on the theme of “Supporting the Environment.” The conference charity partner was Shelter Box, an organization that provides shelter in the immediate aftermath of disasters around the world. I want to send a huge thank you to the members and clubs who donated over $20,000 to this organization. The day finished on a high, with an ice cream social sponsored by our own MacKay’s here in Cochrane.

With my year as District Governor completed, I have one final engagement to carry out. On Sunday, July 3, the celebration for the “Bike-A-Thon” fundraiser will take place at Cochrane Toyota. The other legacy from the District Conference is the opportunity it provides to present a cheque for $10,000 to “The Trail – Calgary to Canmore”. This Rotary project will bring together communities along the Bow Valley and that is a reason for all of us to celebrate.

When one door closes, another one opens.

© 2022 Martin Parnell

[email protected]

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