Rotarians to blow Oprah out of the water and off the bridge

Rotarians to blow Oprah out of the water and off the bridge

Led by Rotary International President Ron Burton, Rotarians from around the globe will come together at this year’s RI Convention in Sydney to beat a world record currently held by Oprah Winfrey and raise funds for polio eradication.

Rotary International President Ron Burton has plenty of friends, but he’ll need them if his attempt at a unique Sydney world record is to be achieved in the lead-up to the Sydney Convention this year.

Rotarians from all over the world will be among the 20,000 or so delegates to the International Convention, but before it begins, they will have the chance to be part of a spectacular world record currently held by none other than Oprah Winfrey herself.

In doing so, those same Rotarians will be supporting an innovative fundraising effort in aid of The Rotary Foundation’s polio eradication campaign.

“The challenge is there for Rotarians attending their International Convention to set new world records for the number of flags from different nations on the bridge at one time, and for the number of people on the bridge at one time,” said the CEO of convention partner Bridgeclimb, Todd Coates.

“For our part it’s an exciting way to show off Sydney’s most iconic attractions to people from all over the world, and to help in Rotary’s magnificent effort to rid the world of polio,” Coates said.

BridgeClimb will donate 50 per cent of each ticket purchased by Rotarians participating in the world record attempt. An additional donation will also be made for each Rotarian who climbs the bridge outside of the record attempts.

“I can’t think of a better way to show off the world’s most spectacular harbor, and for Rotarians to support the polio campaign,” Coates said.

The team from Rotary Down Under blazed the trail for fellow Rotarians in December under the supervision of BridgeClimb’s Public Relations Executive Charli Beale.

“This is a special chance for Rotarians of all ages and levels of fitness,” Charli said.

“We’ve got guys like Lloyd Poulton, who at 85 years of age has climbed the bridge 61 times [when this went to press].

“Of course, Oprah Winfrey climbed with 315 of her Ultimate Viewers and declared there was no better way to see Sydney in all of its glory when she brought her team out here in 2012.

“We’ve even had Chris Muller, who climbed the bridge when she was 100 years old, so there’s really no reason for anyone to think climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge is beyond them.”

The physical effort is one thing, the sheer height is another factor entirely, but as someone who gets nervous in a glass elevator at the shopping mall, climbers can rest assured that this is hardly a challenge.

Once you’re on the bridge itself, the width of the girders that support the walkway give an assuring level of personal safety. Of course, you are tethered to the bridge rail at all times using a security system used by solo round-the-world sailors to ensure they don’t fall overboard.

A high-tech radio headset ensures you are in constant contact with your guide, and after four climbs, this latest system upgrade was effective even as wind, road traffic and Sydney trains roared above and below.

The thought of 500 Rotarians led by President Ron Burton spanning the upper arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is an image that will be beamed around the world to showcase Rotary’s ability to achieve whatever it sets its collective mind to do.

Places are limited so to BOOK YOUR SPOT in Rotary’s attempt at two Sydney Harbour Bridge World Records and remember, every booking attracts a donation towards the eradication of polio.

Look out, Oprah, Rotary is coming after you!

By Mark Wallace
Rotary Down Under
Rotary Club of Bowral Mittagong, NSW