Superior Rotary celebrates 100 years of initiativeA number of things in Superior — and internationally — might not have happened as quickly as they did if not for a meeting April 1, 1912.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
A number of things in Superior — and internationally — might not have happened as quickly as they did if not for a meeting April 1, 1912.
That’s the day a group of Duluth Rotarians headed over the old Interstate Bridge to meet with a couple dozen Superior natives and start the process of creating Wisconsin’s first and the nation’s 40th Rotary Club.
Next week marks 100 years since the organization that created Superior’s signature event — the Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival — gained its charter.
That was three years before Rotary International was even created, said Al Raffetto, president of the Superior Rotary. He said it was a group of Superior and Duluth Rotary members heading to Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, three years after the Superior the Superior Club was chartered that launched the international service organization.
“We’re initiators,” Raffetto said. Even before the governments of Canada and the United States agreed there should be a bridge between the two nations, members of the Thunder Bay, Duluth and Superior Rotary Clubs came together to build the Outlaw Bridge over the Pigeon River to link the two nations.
And closer to home, it was the Superior Rotary that launched the Boy Scouts in Superior. To raise money for the organization’s charitable giving, the club initiated sled dog races in Superior. They also provided loans to dairy farmers.
“Someone else would have had to do that,” Raffetto said.
The first Rotary Club, founded in 1905 in Chicago, was formed by an attorney who wished to capture the same friendly spirit he felt in small towns in a professional club.
Many of the first organizations formed in areas where commerce was happening, in port towns, Raffetto said.
As the Rotary grew, so did its mission. Founded on the idea of serving members professional and social needs, Rotarians began pooling their resources and contributing their talents to serve the communities’ needs.
The Rotary motto “service above self” conveys the humanitarian spirit of the organization’s 1.2 million members worldwide.
And it’s led to efforts such as the current mission the organization has undertaken to eradicate polio from the world.
Locally, efforts for the last decade plus have focused on the fight against cancer. Now in its 11th year, the Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to local efforts to provide tool necessary to help cancer patients win their fight against the sometimes deadly disease.
This year’s festival on Barker’s Island runs Aug. 24-25. For information, visit www.lakesuperiordragons.com.
While the Superior Rotary takes on important issues, Raffetto said, “we have a lot of fun.”
The Superior Rotary meets at noon each Wednesday at Barker’s Island Inn.