When I began this Rotary year as your president, I wanted us, above all, to Light Up Rotary. I wanted us to share with the world how many wonderful friendships and experiences we have found in Rotary, and how Rotary has transformed and enriched our lives. I knew that by telling others about Rotary, we would increase membership, build stronger clubs, and improve our ability to help people in need.
As we end this 2014-15 Rotary year, I am honored by your response and will always be grateful for how you have risen to this challenge. You have answered my call to Light Up Rotary by holding many successful Rotary Day celebrations in your communities; you have outdone yourselves in your contributions to our Rotary Foundation; and you have moved all of Rotary forward with new members and new clubs.
When I chose my theme for my year as president, I was inspired by the words of Confucius, who said, "It is better to light a single candle than to sit and curse the darkness."
This year, more than 1.2 million Rotarians, along with Interactors, Rotaractors, Rotary Youth Exchange participants, and Rotary Peace Fellows, have lit their own candles in tens of thousands of communities. Together, the lights we have kindled have created a great light that shines for all the world to see.
I thank all of you for the opportunity to serve as your president this year, and for the hard work and dedication of our volunteer leadership and our staff members. I came to them with high expectations – and they delivered.
I also am grateful for the many friends I have made during this Rotary year, and for the wonderful visits I've had to so many places. I will always remember, with great fondness, riding on the Rotary float in the Rose Parade, watching children enjoy the Japanese drummers at the Rotary Day open house at RI headquarters in Evanston, and bicycling through the night in Colombo during the Ride to Light Up Rotary event, celebrating a polio-free Sri Lanka.
I have seen a new energy in Rotary this year, and felt a new excitement. We've seen more and more women and young people join Rotary as well – including my wife, Corinna, and our three children.
I hope that in the year to come, you will continue your wonderful work to Light Up Rotary – and to help it Be a Gift to the World.