PARKERSBURG - Raising funds and awareness to help eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus is the goal of a cross-country ride by a Kiwanis Club member from California.
Robert Burlison of the LaCanada Flintridge Kiwanis Club was in Parkersburg Tuesday to speak with North Parkersburg Kiwanis Club members at Colombo's Restaurant. He said his ride from California began on Memorial Day and will end there on Labor Day.
"This is part of the Kure (Kiwanis Unity Ride to Eliminate) Ride 2013 project," he said. "That project is riding through the United States and attending at least one Kiwanis meeting in every state, including Alaska and Hawaii."
Photo by Jeffrey Saulton
Bob Burlison, right, of the LaCanada Flintridge Kiwanis Club, rode into Parkersburg Tuesday with the help of, from left, Rod Lemley and Lee Starcher of the American Legion Riders and Gary McMahan of the Christian Motorcyclists Association.
On Tuesday Burlison was attending his 36th meeting and West Virginia was his 31st state. He was in North Olmstead, Ohio, on Monday and is slated to address clubs in Lexington, Ky., today and in Indianapolis on Thursday.
He estimates he has spoken to about 3,000 Kiwanis members. He said some meetings had hundreds in attendance while most others had 15 to 20 present.
"We will make at least 50 states and 54 meetings, maybe closer to 60 meetings," he said. "This week I have four meetings and I have three to six each week."
Burlison said he will not actually go to Alaska and Hawaii. He will meet with members of an Alaska club during the Northwest District Governor's Ball in Seattle and he will address a club in Hawaii by way of a web cam connection.
"We also support the Eliminate project, a cooperative effort between the Kiwanis and UNICEF," he said. "We are our own project and we are supporting the overall Kiwanis effort."
Burlison said the ride will set a world record.
"This will be for the world's longest continuous motorcycle ride in one country," he said. "The current Guinness World Record for the longest continuous ride in one country is held by a man in India. He rode in India's 28 states and rode 11,200 miles.
"I'm here today to tell you that dude is going down and I will be on the top of the list, not as Bob Burlison but as a Kiwanian. That's the important part of what we're doing."
Burlison said his ride will cover close to 13,000 miles.
While tetanus is not common today it is not completely eliminated around the world, he said.
"Over the next two years we are providing the last push," he said. "It takes $1.80 for three shots that saves the baby. One baby dies every nine minutes from this. Once vaccinated the mother will have immunity during the child-bearing years and it will be passed on to the baby."
Burlison said while the ability exists in the United States to get the vaccinations out to the public, they need to organize the movement to get it to places where it is not readily available.
"UNICEF is over there in partnership with Kiwanis," he said.
By 2016, the goal is to protect 61 million mothers in 30 countries.
Tickets for the KURE Opportunity Drawing can be made through the website www.kure21013.com. The drawing will take place on Labor Day and the grand prize will be a BMW scooter or $10,000 cash.
One $50 ticket will provide about 27 vaccinations against maternal and neonatal tetanus, Burlison said.