homepage logo

Rotary Happenings: Overview of Rotary International Convention held in Atlanta

By Staff | Aug 9, 2017

Sanibel-Captiva Rotary’s speaker last week was one of our own. He’s our very own traveling man, Chet Sadler. Chet is Rotary’s energizer bunny having a hand in everything. Primarily he is the club’s global grant go-to-person and has traveled to Haiti, Guatemala, and Ecuador to observe San-Cap Rotary Trust Foundation grant projects. He’s visited water-well projects in Haiti, construction projects at St. Marc School, he’s visited our micro-loan partners in Guatemala where our club has supported loans for Guatemalan coffee growers. Making note here, this travel has basically been on Chet’s dime.

However, one Rotarian bucket-list item for Chet has been to attend a Rotary International Convention. Each year RI has a global convention and locations can be anywhere in the world. This year the convention was held in Atlanta, Georgia, so Chet packed his bags and headed to Atlanta for six days, well, he and 44,000 other convention attendees.

This year’s RI convention in Atlanta marked the 10th anniversary of Rotarian, Arch Klemp’s founding of the Rotary Trust Foundation in 1917, in Atlanta. Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal welcomed the convention attendees to the state and outgoing RI President John Germ made his opening remarks to take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about Rotary, but have fun.

“Everyone you meet here this week, no matter how different they look, no matter where they’re from and what language they speak-everyone here is a part of your Rotary family. You might just find yourself a new friend, or your club a new partner.”

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Rotary Trust Foundation Rotarian Armando Marinelli and family from Agnone, Italy presented Rotary International with a new handcrafted bronze Rotary bell made in his family’s foundry in Italy. The bell took five months to create and stands 42 centimeters in diameter and 21 centimeters tall. The Marinellites Foundry is the second oldest family business in the world and has been in business for the last 1,000 years. As President Germ rang the new bell the convention came to order.

The featured speaker for the convention was the founder of Microsoft Bill Gates and co-chair of the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation, speaking on the Gates Foundation’s joint effort with Rotary International to eradicate the presence of Polio in the world the financial stake from Rotary and the Gates has been $1.5 billion since 2007. Gates will continue to assist Rotary in the raising of another $1.5 billion over the next three years.

Chet attended a breakout session about Rotary’s achievements and progress in eradicating Polio. During this session 3,000 attendees participated in a powerful visual illustration of the progress Rotary has made toward the complete eradication of Polio around the globe. Attendees were asked to light up LED bracelets blue and then as the achievements in Rotary’s fight against Polio, since 2007, were announced certain sections of the arena where asked to change the LED color to green. As the arena lights dimmed most of the room was aglow with green LED light, except for a tiny minuscule section of blue bracelets representing just six reported polio victims last year.

Between subject sessions, attendees were encouraged to go to social events, tour the city, have fun and talk to other attendees, find out about their occupations and about their home clubs, club projects, take lots of pictures of the colorful dress worn by many of the attendees from abroad. Visit the exhibit hall with booths representing NGO’s from around the world, find out about other Rotary Clubs and Rotary projects around the globe.

Chet participated in one of the most unique experiences at the convention, he took part with about 3,000 of his closest friends in the largest virtual reality live viewing experience-with VR glasses provided by Goggle, a four-minute presentation from Bosnia focused on polio and peace.

Some of the other speakers at the convention might surprise you; actor and philanthropist Ashton Kutcha, co-founder of Thorn led a “Panel Presentation on the End of Modern Slavery-Human Trafficking.” Thorn is an international anti-human trafficking organization that works to address the sexual exploitation of children. The primary programming efforts of the organization focus on internet technology and the role it plays in facilitating child pornography and sexual slavery of children on a global scale.

Jack Nicklaus, golf icon, philanthropist, a polio survivor, Rotary ambassador for polio eradication speaking about his life’s journey and progressing through life to success in sports. The eradication of Polio is an achievable goal. Rotary will do it. Andrew Young, civil rights leader during the 60s, leader of the Southern Christian Association with Martin Luther King, U.S. Congressman from Georgia, U.S. Ambassador to UN, and mayor of Atlanta for 20 years. His story included the rebuilding of Atlanta during his years as it’s mayor. Bringing together community members and business leaders to build this progressive world-class city. Achievements are brought about by diverse people working together.

All the events presented at the convention were impressive and inspirational regarding Rotary’s leadership in global humanitarian efforts.

Sanibel-Captiva Rotary meets Friday mornings at 7 a.m. at the Dunes Golf & Tennis Club. Guests welcomed.