The 18,000 mile road trip to raise polio awareness in 50 states

Life is a highway and the highway is life for Bob Mutchler. A few bumps in the road are not going to stop a man who has survived the scourge of polio and dedicated the last two decades of his life to chasing it down and destroying it once and for all.

His weapon of choice - a custom-fit BMW motorcycle.

As part of his latest marathon ride to raise funds and awareness for Rotary International's PolioPlus program, "Motorcycle Bob" Mutchler will be making a pit stop around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Nevada Legislative Building.

This will be the fifth major two-wheel trek for the professional piano technician and president-elect of the North Sacramento Rotary Club.

Mutchler was infected with the disease when he was 9 months old and spent much of the first three years of his life breathing with the aid of an old-fashioned iron lung.

Dubbed "The Centennial Ride" in honor of the 100-year anniversary of Rotary International, Mutchler's latest trip will take him from Sacramento through all 50 state capitals and 10 Canadian provincial capitals to the Rotary centennial celebration and parade in Chicago on June 14, riding some 18,000 miles.

While Mutchler still suffers from irreversible nerve damage from his battle with the disease and walks with the aid of crutches, he rides his motorcycle like a crusader. His past trips have taken him from Australia to Hawaii and back several times over.

He has raised untold amounts of money for polio eradication and shed millions of watts over the present-day realities of the disease, one that many people have wiped from their minds as a existing threat since the booster shot became widely available.

The ride also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the polio vaccine, made by Dr. Jonas Salk.

Rotary International started its polio eradication effort in 1985 in hopes of eliminating the degenerative disease throughout the world by 2005. While the disease still affects many children in developing and Third World countries, in their 20 years of determined efforts to eradicate polio, Rotary has inoculated more than 1.5 billion children in more than 80 countries.

"Bob represents the determination that Rotary has to eradicate this," says Rafael Cappucci, president of the Carson City Rotary. "We enthusiastically support 'Motorcycle Bob' on his ride and wish him a safe, successful journey."

n Contact reporter Peter Thompson at or 881-1215.

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