Category Archives: Polio Eradication

Ninety-Five Years and We Still Haven’t Figured it Out.


A Ready, Fire, Aim reader, Ken, commented on my post about goal setting.  He was wondering why I took one-third of Rotary clubs off of my potential Dare to Dream free-program list because I thought they were “disconnected from Rotary.”  I’ve been thinking about using that term and Ken’s excellent comment ever since. How can a Rotary club be “disconnected” from Rotary?  After all, a Rotary club’s ability to “practice Rotary” (whatever that means) on its own terms is fundamental to our organization.  I’ve written about this before.  On October 2016  I published an article asking if Rotary was a Franchise Operation?  It accurately described a somewhat boozy, late night conversation between concerned Rotary leaders trying to figure out what it means for Rotary clubs to be autonomous, and how more often than not, that autonomy hurts Rotary’s brand in a particular community.  (That was back when I was writing interesting posts worth reading…..)

After all of these years it seems we are still wrestling with the autonomy of Rotary Clubs. Actually independent and autonomous Rotary clubs are perfectly happy with themselves, even if their District Governors are somewhat stressed.  It’s certainly important to me in the context of promoting Dare to Dream.  How can we get Rotary clubs to watch a free excerpt of the movie if they don’t follow the news that is flowing down to them from Rotary leadership? A few Rotary clubs simply aren’t interested in anything other than the programs that they enjoy doing, often for the past many years.   (As I told Ken, I can only guess how many constitutes “a few.”)  The point is, these clubs don’t see this as a problem.  But to be clear, when it comes to service projects, Rotary’s rules clearly give all clubs the right to be autonomous.

One of the great stories in the Dare to Dream movie is the story of Edgar “Daddy” Allen, the International Association of Crippled Children, and Rotary Resolution 23-34.

Daddy Allen was the legendary founder of the Ohio Society of Crippled Children, which became the International Society of Crippled Children, which ultimately became Easter Seals.  Rotary clubs so loved providing services to crippled children (yesterday’s term for children with disabilities) that they joined the ISCC in huge numbers.  The first Chairman of the ISCC was some guy named, Paul Harris.

The organization became so popular that it was suggested that ALL Rotary clubs be REQUIRED to financially support the ISCC.  This did not sit well with many clubs who did not want Rotary International to dictate what service projects individual clubs could do, or should do.  At the International Convention in 1923 the issue was clarified with the passage of Resolution 23-34 which clearly stated that Rotary clubs had complete autonomy in their choice of service activities.  There could be no Rotary-wide service projects enforced by RI.

Rotary leaders had to deal with Resolution 23-34 as they figured out how to position Rotary to do polio eradication.  As Dare to Dream filmgoers learn, the then new 75th Anniversary Fund would be funded by voluntary donations.  The fund itself  would be self-liquidating with a goal of raising $12 million over two years and spending it in five.  Contributions to the Rotary Foundation were also voluntary, but when TRF began funding ongoing international projects through the new 3H program, it created one of the biggest controversies in Rotary history.

Unbelievably, its been NINETY-FIVE years since the debate in St. Louis about Rotary club autonomy.  Apparently we still haven’t figured it out.

To learn more valuable Rotary lessons from Rotary’s history that are absolutely relevant today, watch the movie, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication.  

Follow Ken Solow on FB at daretodreamfilm and on Twitter at @Daretodreamfilm.

Subscribe to Ready, Fire, Aim to receive notifications of new blog posts directly to your inbox.

Increase Rotary Membership and Don’t Call Me Shirley

During the development of the movie, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication, we intended to make the film available to every Rotarian in the world for free.  We felt the story was so important, and so entertaining, that Rotarians would reengage with the polio eradication story….a necessity when you consider that we need to support polio eradication for three years after the last official case of polio is recorded. Surely getting people to watch the movie when it didn’t cost anything wouldn’t be a tough sell.

I thought changing the distribution plan for the movie to make it a fundraiser for polio was a good idea.  After all, we are charging $25 TOTAL for the movie, INCLUDING the $18.75 contribution to Polio Plus, and having walked down the DVD isle at Best Buy I could see that the price point wasn’t cheap, but it wasn’t outrageous either.  Especially when you consider we are selling the movie for $6.25 and the rest of the price is a charitable contribution to Rotary’s most important project.

The new distribution plan is to make the first 18-minutes of the movie a FREE club program.  We’ve given Club Presidents a FREE downloadable PDF on how to conduct a discussion with club members about the movie and Rotary’s polio eradication efforts. What better “teaser” to buy the film than to show the first 18-minutes? Surely Rotarians will want to see how the story ends, right? (Forgive me for this, but I can’t help but add this clip from the movie, Airplane, where using the term “surely” has been forever ruined for me and for other Airplane fans.  This is Leslie Nielson in the first of many movie parodies that resurrected his career and Robert Hays as the ex-pilot, Ted Striker.)

Surely (I dare you not to say it) Club Presidents won’t show the 16-minute download plus the two minutes of credits and think that’s the end of the movie? Surely they won’t skip the discussion about polio? Surely they won’t miss this opportunity to sell the movie to their members so that everyone actually sees the end of the story and learns the important lessons offered by the great Rotarians who put us on the path to polio eradication? And surely they will stress that the movie is a much needed, and Bill and Melinda Gates matched, contribution to Polio Plus?

As importantly, will Rotary clubs avail themselves of the opportunity to use this film to recruit and retain new members? For example, why not gather all the new members from the past twelve months and have a “new member dinner” where everyone is invited to a club officer’s house to watch the movie, enjoy good food and frosty beverages, and generally discuss their Rotary experience so far? What better way to bond new members to the club, to Rotary’s greatest goal, and to each other?

Same thing with new prospective members. Why not have a special evening where anyone who has visited the club in the past is invited to a special movie night at a club member’s home who has a wide-screen TV, where they watch the film, enjoy good food and drink, and then discuss Rotary membership? What better way to introduce someone to club membership and Rotary’s illustrious history in a fun and non-threatening way?

Time will tell if changing our movie distribution plan to a fundraiser was a mistake. If Rotary clubs watch the free 18-minute club program and individual members don’t buy the film and learn the full story it will be a shame. Even though raising money for Polio eradication is important, if we don’t use this film as a tool for public image and membership retention and recruitment, we will be missing a big opportunity.

I can’t let you leave this post without enjoying one more famous (imfamous) clip from the movie, Airplane. My apologies for the violence depicted. As I recollect, we were all slapping each other for weeks after the movie came out. Here is Lloyd Bridges and Robert Stack, among others, creating chaos in the air and on the ground.

Subscribe to Ready, Fire, Aim to receive notifications of new posts directly to your email inbox.

Follow Dare to Dream movie news on Facebook at #daretodreamfilm and on Twitter at @Daretodreamfilm



28 Dare to Dream movie sales. Only 7,472 needed to hit our goal!

Here’s a shout out to Paul in Prior Lake, USA, Denish in Gold Coast, Australia, Ruth in Ivanhoe, Australia, dwp5334 from Castro Valley, California, and sphill1617 from Alexandria, Australia, the latest five customers for Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication.   Not to mention our customers in Geneva, Switzerland, the Philippines, and Kuala Lumpur.  Pretty cool….don’t you think?

As we begin to turn the promotional gears for the movie, I can’t help thinking about goal setting and the lessons we can learn from our polio Founding Fathers on the topic.  I hesitate to say it, but I might know a thing or two about goal setting.   You probably know the basics.  SMART goals = Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound. One of my favorite ways to teach Rotary Club Presidents about realistic goals is to use polio as an example of how NOT to do it.  “Eradicate polio for all of the children of the world.” How smart was that back in the late 1970’s with more than 1,000 cases of polio per day in every country in the developing world?  As you watch the film, pay attention to Clem Renouf, Dr. John Sever, and Cliff Dochterman discussing how and why they set such a huge goal.

My own personal opinion is the best way to set mediocre goals guaranteed not to inspire anyone is to take a poll of the audience and try to find consensus of what they want to do.  You will find yourself with very comfortable, achievable, AVERAGE goals because you set up the process to get the average opinion.

One of the themes of the movie, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication, is to explore how a few courageous Rotary leaders came up with such an outrageous goal.  I used to speculate with my PETS classes that whoever was responsible didn’t know anything about SMART goal setting.  So how cool was it to make the movie and interview the living “Founding Fathers” of Rotary’s polio program where we had the opportunity to ask each of them about setting such a large goal.  What did they think at the time?  What do they think of that goal now that we are “this close?”  What would they do differently?

If you are a student of leadership and you are interested in how big ideas become big accomplishments, you might want to visit and pick up a copy of the movie.  The cost is $25 and $19 of the purchase price will be donated to Polio Plus.  Their answers will surprise you.

So with the fearlessness, courage, and perhaps naiveté of our Rotary leaders in mind, let me go out on a limb (again) and share a few of the goals for the Dare to Dream documentary.  A year from now we can revisit this post and laugh at my logic.  Here goes nothing…..

I figure there are 35,000 Rotary clubs in the world.  Then figure there are 10,000 clubs that are completely disconnected from Rotary.  So we have 25,000 clubs to work with.  You also have to figure in the large number of Rotarians who don’t speak English, but we are working on foreign language subtitles for the film so we won’t deduct for language barriers.  If 10% of the clubs take advantage of our offer for a free club program over the next twelve months (the Mother of all assumptions) where they can show the first 18 minutes of Dare to Dream, that’s 2,500 clubs showing the excerpt.  (It’s free for Pete’s sake! They can see the excerpt on the website or download.  There’s no risk and its a great program….right?  RIGHT?)  Now, if Club Presidents encourage club members to buy the film so they can learn the rest of the story, and 3 members of each club (on average) buy the film, that gets us to sales of 7,500 copies.  Polio Plus gets $18.75 of each purchase, which adds up to $140,625…before we add in Movie Night fundraisers.  If 2,500 clubs watch the excerpt and 3% do a Movie Night, and if the 75 clubs that do Movie Night raise on average an additional $500 per Movie Night, this would add an additional $37,500 to the unofficial total. (It’s unofficial because I won’t be able to track it online.)

I’m thinking we declare victory once we raise more than $200,000 for polio eradication!

That’s crazy, right?   Maybe so, but not nearly as nutty as saying we were going to eradicate polio for all the children of the world back in the late 1970’s!  Anyone out there want to help out with this?


Visit the Dare to Dream website at  Your $25 movie purchase allows us to donate $18.75 to PolioPlus.  Follow us on Facebook at daretodreamfilm.  Follow us on Twitter at @daretodreamfilm.

Subscribe to Ready, Fire, Aim to receive new posts directly to your inbox.


Dare to Dream’s Wild Premiere in Evanston

Don’t you love movie premieres? The press, the excitement, the stars, the red carpet, the fashion, and of course, the fans. We had it all last Friday at the premiere in Evanston of the new documentary, Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication. Here is a quick shot of the limos lined up outside of One Rotary Center as the excitement was building.

The feeling in the theater last Friday was electric. We showed the movie and then Carol Pandak, Rotary’s High Priestess of Polio eradication, hosted a panel discussion with Sarah Gibbard Cook, author of the book, Rotary and the Gift of a Polio Free World, and Mike McGovern, Chair of Rotary’s International Polio Plus Committee,and your’s truly, to discuss the movie and update the audience on the latest polio eradication news. Afterwards we got some great video of lucky audience members who attended the show.

Here’s Mark Gibson DGE District 6440:

Not to be outdone, here is Suzanne Gibson:

And finally, here is Diane Teska:

There is an old saying in Rotary, “what goes on in the after party stays in the after party.” But here’s a photo to give you some idea of the chaos that ensued at the party beginning at or around 4PM at Rotary’s home offices last Friday. I was told this behavior wasn’t unusual for the staff on a Friday afternoon but I must admit to being just a little intimidated.

If you are at all interested in learning more about the best movie about Rotary history you’ve ever seen, then go to and check it out. You can see the 3-minute trailer, download the 16-minute excerpt of the movie that you can use as a free club program, or you can buy the film for $25 and make a $18.75 contribution to Polio Plus when you make your purchase. There is a lot of excitement building about this film….it’s time for you to check it out.

#daretdreamfilm #rotary #endpolio #droptozero

You can follow Dare to Dream at Daretodreamfilm on Facebook, and @daretodreamfilm on Twitter.

I’m Baaack

I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s been more than two years since I last wrote on this blog. Did you miss me?   (Hello…Hello… anybody out there?)

It turns out that I’ve been working on an amazing project for the past two years and I thought this was as good a place as any to fill you in about what’s going on.  But first, let’s watch a compilation for a minute or two of Arnold uttering one of his most famous and most annoying quotes.

OK.  Why am I bugging you?  Because we are kicking off one of the most fantastic Polio Plus fundraising campaigns ever.  We’ve produced a full-length documentary, called Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication.  It is one of the coolest stories you’ve never heard.  I mean it.  Who knew that our own Rotary history could be so interesting?  And so entertaining.  When you find out how Rotary got into the polio eradication business you aren’t going to believe it.  We were able to get first person interviews with the Rotary leaders who actually put us on the path to polio eradication. Turns out I didn’t know this story and I’ll bet you don’t either.

Stay tuned as I try to learn something about social media in order to promote the movie on RFA, Facebook, and Twitter.  We’ve created a daretodreamfilm Facebook page (please friend it, or like it, or whatever you are supposed to do) where you will find timely video, photos, and news about the film.  I am also going to be tweeting about the movie and the twitter account is @daretodreamfilm.  How about that?  Daretodreamfilm and daretodreamfilm …..which also happens to be the name of the website where you can buy the movie.

Our plan is to use movie sales to raise big money for Polio Plus.  To promote the film we’ve arranged for Rotary clubs to be able to watch a 16-minute excerpt of the movie for free and use it as a club program.  We are hoping Rotarians will want to learn the rest of the story and buy the movie.  Aside from being structured as a fund raiser, this movie will be the best member retention, member recruitment, and community PR tool your Rotary club has ever used.  Trust me.

For now, let me thank Ilana Bittner and Pixel Workshop for creating an absolutely wonderful film.  Thanks also to Darren Easton at Cypher’s Agency for helping me get up and running.  If you’ve  a mind to check out the trailer, the movie excerpt, or buy the film, go to Dare to Dream or navigate to  I’ll sell you the film for $6.25 if you make a $18.75 tax deductible contribution to Polio Plus.  Well….you pay $25 and we’ll make the $18.75 contribution for you.  Sound like a deal?

Dare to Dream, How Rotary Became the Heart and Soul of Polio Eradication,  is owned by the Rotary District 7620 Project Trust Fund, a 501(c)(3) organization.

Follow Ken Solow on Twitter at @Daretodreamfilm.  Follow Dare to Dream on Facebook at daretodreamfilm