Raising over $20,000 for the 'Rotary Pedals Out Polio' bike tour campaign, exhausted cyclists trekked into Tamaqua Tuesday evening as they finished one of the last stretches of the Rotary's four-day Schuylkill County bike tour to fight polio. The 335-mile bike tour, sponsored by District 7370 of Rotary International (Central PA), was held to provide continued funds, support and awareness for Rotary International's never-ending campaign to totally eradicate polio from the face of the earth. Polio, or Poliomyelitis, is a disease caused by infection with the poliovirus. The virus spreads by direct person-to-person contact, by contact with infected mucus or phlegm from the nose or mouth, or by contact with infected feces.

The ride, created and joined by Milton Rotary Club members Jeffrey Coup, PolioPlus Chairman for Rotary District 7370, and Eric McDowell, started Saturday with a 71-mile ride from Renovo to Hughesville. It then required the single longest distance of the four-day tour, which involved riders traveling a lengthy 94-miles, ending in Danville on Sunday. Monday, riders rode 67 miles, ending their third day of the tour in Ashland. The cyclists, traveling an additional 90-miles Tuesday, launched their last departure location in Mahanoy City. They ending at the Tamaqua YMCA parking lot a little around 6 p.m. Making the final lap were bike tour organizers Eric McDowell, Jeff Coup, and two other riders, Michelle Simons and George Wenzel III.

In addition to staffing registration tables, providing riders with refreshments and collecting donations, some Rotary clubs also arranged for Police escorts and traffic control through their communities.

Tamaqua Rotary Club President Lynn Zimmerman stressed, "I think a lot of people don't realize that polio is still a problem in parts of the world. I'm proud that Rotary International has taken the lead to eradicate this destructive illness." "It was a thrill for our Tamaqua Rotary Club to be the final leg of the 335-mile bicycle trip that two Milton Rotary club members, Jeffrey Coup and Eric McDowell, traveled to raise funds and make us all aware of the need to wipe out this disease throughout the world," Zimmerman added.

Other cyclists were also encouraged to participate in any part of the ride, which had 11 departure points in 11 communities. To donate or for more information about Rotary International and its fight against polio, visit www.rotary7370.org or call Zimmerman at (570) 668-6854.

Coup stated, "I am very proud of the way hundreds of fellow Rotarians around Rotary District 7370 in Central PA pitched in to make our 'Rotary Pedals Out Polio' campaign a success." "Rotary is very close to getting the disease eradicated," added Coup.