Interact Club “Plays For Polio”

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Fully eradicated decades ago, polio may seem as a distant disease for many in the United States, however, the reality is that countless individuals in third world countries still live, suffer and endure the disease. Latrobe Rotary has launched their “Pennies for Polio” campaign to raise money to fully eradicate this disease.

Cooperatively organized the Interact Clubs of Greater Latrobe and Derry Area, Playing for Polio helped in reaching Rotary’s goal of a 10K (6.2 mile) worth of pennies, over $5,000 by June 1, 2012, based on the success of the 2010 event “Hoops for Haiti.” The Derry Area High School gym overflowed with the hearts of those present on the evening of Friday, March 16, 2012, at 7:00 p.m. The cheerleading squads of both Derry Area and Greater Latrobe suited up in a fierce battle as basketball players provided excitement and support with every trick and chant cheering from the sidelines.

The student bodies of the rival teams supported their own, but everyone – no matter a Wildcat or a Trojan – worked together for a worthy cause. “The event generated much interest because it is something that’s out of the ordinary,” said Mr. Bill Snyder, social studies teacher and Interact Club advisor. “Everybody had fun without a doubt.”

A sea of black and blue filled the Derry Area gym, where the main event of the evening took place. Prior to the event, members from each sport coached the others on the fundamentals of the sport. “Even with a loss, we came away knowing we raised a lot of money for polio vaccinations,” said junior cheerleader Erika Hudock.

Although the “lady Wildcats” came up short, with a score of 7 to 41, the proceeds added up for this worthwhile cause. “Don’t worry,” joked Hudock. “Next year we are going to make a comeback and win, I’m very confident of that.”  

In addition to the action of the basketball game, a Chinese auction basket raffle, 50/50 raffle, t-shirt sales, and food sales raised funds toward the cause. “It is awesome to be able to help people on a global scale while doing something as fun as the Playing for Polio event,” said senior Katie Douds, Interact Club president.

Additional monetary donations came through the generosity of students, community members and local businesses. Donations were encouraged and promoted through another competitive, good natured rivalry between the two school districts to raise the most money. Latrobe and Derry’s students collected donations from the Latrobe community. Through the generosity of two communities coming together, a total of $4,000 was raised. “We have two close knit communities and doing things like this strengthens the ties,” said Snyder.

The generosity of the community and work of the students will surely leave an impact. Rotary International gratefully accepted the donations at a luncheon on Wednesday, April 18, 2012. “It’s a great feeling to know that we worked so hard and did what we could to make a difference,” said Interact Club member junior Jessica Buchman.  “I hope we have more events like this because it’s a lot of fun and was very successful.”

Unity was prominent throughout the evening, showing that no matter what team, school, or position one plays, by working together for a common cause, a goal with magnitude can become reality. Even with two very different schools and communities rooting for their home teams, the real victory was against Polio.