“I Scared Away Polio” is the theme of Monster Dash 2013, an annual fundraiser being held Oct. 26 that benefits the Rotary International’s global polio eradication campaign.

The Monster Dash, featuring a 5k walk/run, 5k team run, 10k run, 10k hand-cycle race and Little Monster Dash for ages 10 and younger, will start with check-in at 6:30 a.m. at Harker Heights Community Park, 1501 E. Farm-to-Market 2410. The Little Monster Dash includes a free costume contest for children with prizes for first, second and third place.

All proceeds go to the global polio eradication campaign that provides impoverished countries with the polio vaccine.

Monster Dash Chairman Thomas Malhosky said it’s difficult to raise awareness for the disease in the U.S. because there are so few cases here.

“A lot of people don’t remember when we had the polio outbreak and it’s hard telling people what it used to be like,” he said. “But in this day and age, with so much air travel, all it takes is one carrier and if people aren’t vaccinated it gets out there.”

Polio is endemic in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, which presents a threat of contamination to other nations. For the past two decades, Rotary International has helped reduce the number of cases in those countries from 100,000 to less than 300.

But there’s more work to be done, Malhosky said. “The problem is that you can’t stop vaccinating. ... We can’t stop until it’s been gone for three to four years.”

The fundraiser has brought in more than $17,000 from past events. Organizers are in talks to move future races to Dana Peak Park to accommodate more people and additional activities, Malhosky said.

For entry fees, start times and prizes or to register, call 254-953-5657 or go to www.ci.harker-heights.tx.us/index.php/programs-a-events/special-events.

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