New heights in raising awareness of polio

There was a time when climbing the world's sixth highest mountain was enough to get people's attention.

However, Berry Rotarian Ken Hutt knew if he wanted to raise awareness about Rotary's End Polio Now campaign, he had to go one step further.

"If I climb the mountain as a Rotarian, take a paraglider with me and fly off the mountain, it will bring a lot more attention," he said.

Next week Mr Hutt leaves Berry on a journey that will see him reach the summit of Cho Oyu - on the border between Tibet and Nepal - in late May.

The mountain is 8201 metres above sea level.

Once the summit is reached Mr Hutt will then use a paraglider, purpose-built for the trip and emblazoned with the words "End Polio Now", to glide three kilometres down to base camp.

"The main challenge is to summit the mountain," he said.

"The climb and take-off will be a challenge, but once I am flying it is easy ... assuming the weather is good.

"At 8200 metres there is only a third of the air pressure we have at sea level, which means breathing is difficult.

"It is in the death zone where you cannot survive for a long period of time. The aim is to get to the summit as quickly as possible and get down."

In the next week the red glider, which weighs around 3kg, may be glimpsed in the Illawarra.

Mr Hutt is a member of the Stanwell Park Hang Gliding and Paragliding Club and is a regular at Bald Hill and Port Kembla's Hill 60, although training for this adventure has been mainly off Cambewarra Mountain.

His goal is to raise $100,000, enough to immunise 150,000 people against polio.

Fellow Berry member Bill Seelis, who is a District Rotary Foundation Chair, said if every Rotarian in Australia and New Zealand donated $2, the target would be within reach as the Gates Foundation has promised $2 for every $1 raised by Rotary.

Donations for the Jump for Polio event can be mailed to:

The Treasurer, Rotary District 9710, PO Box 6137, 

Sussex Inlet NSW 2540

Or deposited directly into the District Trust Account:

Account name: D9710 Nominees Pty Ltd

BSB: 112-879

Account number: 485 555 812

Money boxes can also be found in various businesses around Berry.

To speak to Ken or his team, or to assist with fund-raising, email berryjetz@bigpond.com


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