Proud to Prevent Polio: Purple Pinkie Day comes to Fortuna Middle School

Fortuna, Ca., (KIEM)- Just thirty years ago there were more than 360,000 cases of polio being treated across the globe annually. That number has plunged by more than 99% in the past three decades, due largely to polio eradication efforts spearheaded by rotary clubs world wide. However, the work is not done. Still committed to a polio free world, local rotarians braved the early morning cold to host a fund raiser alongside the student body association at Fortuna Middle School. 

“You donate a dollar and you can get your pinkie painted purple… we sort of like autograph with ink the little board back here.” Student body president Leah Nelson describes the awareness campaign. “The ASB people reps and officers, we set up purple pinkie day to help people with polio. It’s world Polio Day. Polio is a disease that kind of gets rid of muscle in people’s limbs which makes them kind of useless.”

But why purple pinkies? Why spend a dollar to have a one nail eggplant colored manicure?

“We need to eradicate polio,” Local rotarian Rick Center replies, “What it really comes from is when we go to different countries that immunize or vaccinate for polio, when people would bring their children they would paint their fingernail purple so they would know they had the immunization.”

Every donated dollar will be doubled by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. But Nelson says, “I really like the thought of just helping people. It’s not about the how much money we raise.”

The principal, Julie Johansen reacted to the giving spirit of her students. “Fortuna Middle School has a great group of kids and an amazing group of ASB officers. They really care about the community, they’re doing a lot of civic education and outreach. What I’ve noticed is even those students who come from homes where maybe money is hard to come by they still do their part in participating. Whether that’s working or volunteering.”

And the student’s motivation doesn’t stop at polio prevention. “FMS likes to give back to the community. We are also collecting socks and clothes for the people who were affected in the Santa Rosa fires.” Nelson explains.

Also happening Wednesday, FMS is hosting an Art and Literacy night with a focus on polio eradication. “We’re having our art and literacy night, and its one of the thing’s we’re featuring since it is purple pinkie day.” Johansen explains. Nelson says the evening is usually a great opportunity for the middle school students to read to younger kids and make a difference.

“A community is supposed to be together, so I feel like that’s a really good way to set up out school.” She says.