Hastings Kiwanis surpasses $73,000 goal for Eliminate Project!
At our club’s regular noon meeting on January 24, 2013, presided by then president John Boltz, the Hastings Kiwanis Club voted to raise $72,750 within five years – or $750 for each of the club’s 97 members at the time – to help eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus (MNT) from the earth, a global effort known as the Eliminate Project.
At that meeting, Kiwanians David Kempf and the late Darrell Nelson presented information about the Eliminate Project, and challenged the club to make the pledge. As members were silent, wondering if it could be done and the effort it would require, Kiwanian Mary Peterson stood up in the back of the room. “We can do it, friends,” she said. “We can!”
And the vote was unanimous.
Following additional fundraising efforts by every member of Hastings Kiwanis, plus personal donations from individual members, Hastings Kiwanis surpassed it’s goal this month – and is on pace to send more than $75,000 to help finish the fight against MNT. That’s enough support to vaccinate and protect nearly 42,000 mothers and their future babies.
“Since launching this project in 2013, every member has had a hand in reaching our fundraising goal,” said current Kiwanis president Roger Selley. “We’ve worked hard as a club, and I couldn’t be more proud of our efforts, which involved a lot of work and sweat in our fundraising efforts, and sacrifice for those making personal donations.”
The local commitment was part of a Kiwanis International effort to raise $110 million globally to fund UNICEF’s effort to vaccinate 100 million women in some of the world’s poorest countries and eliminate MNT. Since launching the global effort, MNT has been eliminated in 41 out of 58 countries around the world, with two more countries on the verge of being declared free of the disease.
Hastings Kiwanis efforts targeted for the Eliminate Project included launching a local bicycle tour, Touring Adams County for Kiwanis Youth (TACKY) Tour; directing cars to parking spots during the Adams County Fairfest; concessions at the city’s Fourth of July celebration; concessions during the city’s youth track meet; and other efforts adopted by members of one of the community’s most active service clubs.
Members of the club also gave out of their own pocket, from change and dollars during weekly noon meetings to those members who became Zeller Fellows, a national recognition for Kiwanians who contributed $1250 or more to the effort. The Hastings Kiwanis Club has 20 Zeller Fellows.
During its efforts for the Eliminate Project, Hastings Kiwanis continued funding local projects and volunteering for numerous local non-profits and events. In fact, funds raised from the annual Pancake Day continued to go to these local efforts, which includes grants for youth-focused non-profits, dictionaries for every third grader in the county, a Christmas gift shopping program for youth, a free youth bowling tournament and more.
Selley is the fifth Hastings Kiwanis president since the club made the pledge, and important early work was organized by Neil Grothen. Hastings Kiwanis treasurer Jim Krebsbach has been the one constant through the years, and kept the club up-to-date on its goal.
“It’s taken many hands over the years, and the Eliminate Project has shown us we can do big things,” Selley said. “I’m excited to see what we’ll tackle next.”
Maternal and neonatal tetanus is a devastating yet preventable disease that cruelly and swiftly kills babies in their first week of life – and in some cases, the mother, too. Babies with tetanus become extremely sensitive to light and touch, and can’t be held by their mother. Muscle spasms can even break a baby’s soft bones.
Tetanus, found in soil everywhere, comes in contact with cuts during birth, usually the umbilical cord. A vaccine has existed for decades that prevents MNT and costs just $1.80 for the three-shot series. UNICEF has lead a vaccination campaign for many years, but looked to Kiwanis to help eliminate it from the earth.
In 2013, MNT claimed about 60,000 babies annually. In 2015, the World Health Organization said that number had fallen to 34,000, and continues to decline thanks to the Eliminate Project and UNICEF’s vaccination and education efforts.
Previous success in eliminating global problems occurred in the 1990s, when Kiwanis International, supported by local clubs like Hastings Kiwanis, contributed more than $100 million to UNICEF’s effort toward the global elimination of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD). At the time, IDD was the leading preventable cause of mental and developmental disabilities in the world. The program was estimated to save 8 million children a year from IDD.
The Hastings Kiwanis Club, founded in 1920, has about 90 members who complete dozens of service projects annually to help strengthen our community and serve children. In Hastings, Nebraska, and Adams County club members feed the hungry, host a kids bowling tournament, volunteer thousands of hours, distribute dictionaries to third graders, mentor the disadvantaged, support youth reading programs, take youth shopping for their families at Christmas and contributes financially to many local causes. For more, go to hastingskiwanis.org.
Hastings Kiwanis is a member of Kiwanis International, a global organization comprised of members who are dedicated to changing the world, one child and one community at a time.