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Tommy and Chantal Bagwell honored for donations toward polio eradication
Tommy and Chantal Bagwel
Tommy and Chantal Bagwell were honored for becoming Platinum Level members of Rotary International's Arch Klumph Society for their donations to help end polio. - photo by Kelly Whitmire

A local couple was honored this week for the financial support to help end polio.

At a meeting of the Rotary Club of Forsyth County, on Thursday, Sept. 17, Tommy and Chantal Bagwell were honored for becoming Platinum Level members of the Arch Klumph Society, named after the sixth president of Rotary.

The Arch Klumph Society recognizes those who have given at least $250,000 during their lifetime, and the Platinum level for those who have given at least $2.5 million.

The Bagwells donated toward PolioPlus, a part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which aims to eliminate polio from the last three countries where it remains and to keep other countries polio-free.

Tommy Bagwell thanked other members of the club for their support of the cause and said, ahead of a convention in 2017, he challenged members of the club to become Paul Harris Fellows, given to those who donate at least $1,000, by that meeting.

“As usual, I’d like to say something, thank you mainly to the club,” he said. “It’s meant a lot to me, not what we’ve been able to do because we have the finances to do it, but that convention was in 2017 and that was the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Rotary Foundation, and this is our home here, and the 100th anniversary in Atlanta.”

He said he felt it was “important for everybody to participate” and he offered to loan money to the club to meet their fundraising goal with the understanding that any of the loans would be paid back to the club, rather than him.

“Everybody kind of thanked me, and I asked two or three times to whoever was president at the time, ‘How are we doing?’ and ‘How much do I need to give you?’” Tommy Bagwell said, “and the reply was, ‘Nothing.’ The club had ponied up -- every single person -- so that just meant a lot to me personally that the club had done that.  

Along with the Bagwell family, the Rotary Club of Forsyth County and Rotary District 6910 were also recognized as the top club and district for giving to PolioPlus.

Bagwell had a long and successful run leading American Proteins, a company that his father founded in 1949. Bagwell took over when his father died in 1972 and led until the company was bought by Tysons in 2018 for $850 million.