When 14-year-old Joshua Kim decided last summer to donate all the allowance he'd saved up to Rotary’s End Polio Now campaign, he never dreamed that almost a year later he would be taking the mound for a ceremonial first pitch at Wrigley Field, the historic baseball park of the Chicago Cubs.
Joshua, now 15 and a freshman at Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, did the honors just before the 25 May game between the Chicago Cubs and the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers during Strike Out Polio: Rotary Day at Wrigley Field.
"I can't believe this is really happening. I've always wanted to do this," said Joshua, whose father, Tony, is a member of the Rotary Club of Chicagoland Korean-Northbrook. His dad was in the stands with more than 600 Chicago-area Rotarians, relatives, friends, and Rotary International staff.
Tony’s involvement in club polio eradication fundraising efforts inspired Joshua to contribute $1,300 to Rotary’s US$200 Million Challenge. Rotary has committed to raising $200 million in response to $355 million in challenge grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Rotary Day at Wrigley Field brought in more than $10,000 for polio eradication. The Chicago Cubs contributed $20 to the campaign for each ticket sold by area Rotary clubs. An End Polio Now message appeared on Wrigley Field's famous marquee, with announcement made inside the ballpark before and during the game.
"Many Chicagoans don’t even remember polio -- let alone realize that it still paralyzes children in other parts of the world -- and that’s why public events like Rotary Day at Wrigley Field are so important,” said Rotary Foundation Trustee Chair Glenn E. Estess Sr.
For Joshua, throwing out the first pitch was almost as exciting as meeting international movie star Jackie Chan, who also was part of the pregame ceremonies.
"It was a great moment for me. It was awesome to meet Jackie Chan. I have always wanted to meet him and shake his hand," he said. "I was given a very special opportunity by Rotary, and I am very thankful."