Two Movie Nights & (at least) $20,000 raised for Polio Eradication

The big screen at the Avalon Theatre in Easton, Md.

Last week the Rotary world celebrated World Polio Day.  I was fortunate enough to be invited to celebrate along with two different groups of Rotary clubs.  Both evenings featured a Movie Night event where excited Rotarians watched the polio documentary, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became The Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication, and then collectively raised $22,000 for polio eradication.  On October 24th I shared the evening with the Rotary Club of Easton and their neighboring clubs on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and on October 25th I was invited to hang out with the Rotary clubs north of Baltimore, including my friends in the Rotary clubs of Aberdeen, Bel Air, Havre de Grace, Southern Harford County, and Middle River.

I’ve previously written about the plans for the Easton club’s Movie Night.  If you are interested in planning a similar event you can check out that post by clicking  HERE.  Special thanks to Richie Wheatley, President of the Rotary Club of Easton, my friend John Nanni, who always inspires everyone around him while living with post-polio syndrome, and Tim Kagan, who shared an amazing slide show while discussing doing NID’s in India.  I would like to think the star of the show was the film itself, but I’m afraid the real star was the Avalon Theatre in Easton.  What an amazing venue to watch the film and discuss Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio. (I happen to be a big fan of Kathy Mattea and just want to say that Dare to Dream got to the Avalon just three days before she did!)

As the residents of the Eastern Shore of Maryland will gladly share with you, once you cross the Bay Bridge heading east and get to the “other” side of the Chesapeake Bay, life slows down and people tend to be, well…..nicer.  Here are a bunch of pictures from their event.  Notably, they raised funds from ticket sales AND they featured twelve different sponsors on their program.  According to their website they raised $16,200 for polio eradication AND a great time was had by all.  Great job!

From Left: Co-Chair George Hatcher, Chair Richie Wheatley, Past President Tim Kagan, Yours Truly

The next evening I journeyed to Towson University’s building on the Harford Community College campus (I know its confusing but just go with me here) to watch the movie with the Harford County clubs.  Here’s Nick Champagne, President of the Bel Air club,  to properly introduce you to their event.

This event reminded me of the Dare to Dream premier last October because we held the premier on the campus of Howard Community College in a high-tech lecture hall very similar to the one they used to show the film at Towson.  If you are thinking of doing a Movie Night event, check out the local Community College as a venue.  In both of these cases, the college donated the venue for FREE.

Another technique to copy was they used Eventbrite for RSVPs to Movie Night.  AG Sheryl Davis Kohl told me they used the Eventbrite data to make certain individual Rotarians got their Paul Harris credit for their polio donation.  $2,000 in ticket sales plus the Gates match meant $6,000 for polio eradication that evening.  Not bad for a fun night at the movies!

I’m afraid I didn’t take as many pictures that night, but here’s a few to share.

Treasurer Jim Weber armed with Pennies for Polio bucket and the always welcomed raffle tickets.

From my perspective the only thing missing from both events was a strong effort to promote the evening to non-Rotarians.  Once they saw the film both groups agreed that showing Dare to Dream to prospective Rotarians is a fantastic way to introduce them to Rotary.  If you consider doing your own Movie Night, remember that there are professionally designed and downloadable movie posters and customizable fliers announcing your event available on the Dare to Dream website.

You hear a lot nowadays about “polio  fatigue,” the disorder that occurs when Rotarians are tired of talking about polio eradication.  There were no signs of it last week as both events were filled with enthusiastic Rotarians eager to learn about our Rotary polio heritage.  Thanks to all for a memorable World Polio Day celebration!

To rent or purchase the Dare to Dream documentary, and learn how to produce your own Movie Night event to raise money for polio eradication, recruit new members, and raise the visibility of your club in your community, go to the website.

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