About Our Club

Sudbury Sunrisers

Service Above Self

We meet Thursdays at 7:15 AM
Northbury Hotel
50 Brady Street
Sudbury, ON  P3E 1C8
District Site
Venue Map
Upcoming Speakers
Club Calendar
October 2019
Stay Connected
Facebook Twitter YouTube  Instagram
Welcome to the Sudbury Sunrisers
Are you an established professional who wants to make positive changes in your community and the world? Our club members are dedicated people who share a passion for community service and friendship. Becoming a Rotarian connects you with a diverse group who share your drive to give back.
Latest News
Gustavo Zerbino
Rotary Club of Montevideo, Uruguay

The moment before the plane crashed, I took off my seat belt, stood up, and held on to the ceiling. 

The plane hit the mountain and broke apart exactly where I had been sitting. My friend in the seat next to me fell out of the plane and died. 

I was with my rugby team, the Old Christians Club from Montevideo, Uruguay. It was October 1972, and we were flying over the Andes on our way to Santiago, Chile, to play in a rugby championship. There were 40 passengers — teammates as well as friends and family — and five crew members. I was sitting by the window looking at the mountain peaks far below, when suddenly they began to appear closer. I asked my friend, who was sitting in the aisle seat, to let me by and I went to talk to the pilots. They said not to worry, but then they looked out and saw the high peaks and told me to sit back down. 

After the crash, I thought it must be true that the dead could still think, because I could not believe that I could be alive. All the seats were piled on top of each other. There were dead people, injured people, people struggling to get out. 

We had crashed on the Glacier of Tears. We had no food. Temperatures fell to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit at night, when it snowed and there was wind. By day, when the sky was clear and the sun was directly overhead, it got very hot. 

There is so much to say about our 72 days in the mountains. There are hundreds of documentaries. There are the book and the movie Alive. 

We were very young and we adapted quickly, because we had no choice. The only clothes we had were the ones we were wearing: leather shoes, nylon socks, pants, a shirt, a blazer, a necktie. When another person died, you would put on their pants and you had two pairs of pants, or two pairs of socks. 

Every night we prayed the rosary. For three reasons: first, to thank God because we had survived that day and to ask for a next day just as good. The second reason was that saying the rosary was like having a windshield wiper for all of the negative thoughts we would have during the darkness of night. And the third reason was that every five minutes the rosary came back around to you. If you were to fall asleep, you would be frozen like a statue, so we would nudge each other to pray.

We put a radio together from the pieces of other radios and heard that the search had been called off. The world had abandoned us, so we built a solidarity where the only goal was to live. We learned that the important thing in life is not what happens, but what we do with what happens, which is the only thing that’s up to us.

There are no extraordinary human beings. There are only common, ordinary human beings, like you and me, who are able to do extraordinary things if we connect to love and to passion if we do things that are more important than ourselves.

We made a pact that if we died, our friends could use our bodies so they might live. We understood it as something logical. Our teammate Gustavo Nicolich wrote a letter to his mother, which I brought with me when we were rescued. He tells her that we had started to eat the flesh from the bodies of our dead friends. He says we asked God from the depths of our beings not to allow it to come to pass. But the moment arrived, and we had to accept it with courage and faith. 

This is something that makes us proud. We chose life and not death. Sixteen of us survived to tell our story.

Telling people about what happened to us has never bothered me at all. It is the best tribute we can offer our friends who died on the mountain, because they were wonderful human beings who gave us everything so we could live.

I never think about the fact that I was in a plane that fell. I take planes everywhere. I do things, I don’t worry about things. Today, I’m president of a multinational pharmaceutical company in Uruguay. I’m with the rugby union. I played for the Uruguayan national rugby team. I’m on the UNICEF advisory board. I work with a foundation called Rugby Without Borders. I’ve been a Rotarian for 23 years. I have six children. I have done many things. And the Andes accident is just one more thing that happened to me.

For the world, it was a huge thing. But people’s lives are all unique and unrepeatable. All the things you live through are unique to you. Life has been very generous to me. It gave me the opportunity to live, learn, share, and be thankful every day that I am alive.

— As told to Briscila Greene and Diana Schober

Photo by Mickey Deneher

As a packed audience sang and danced to “Crimson and Clover,” “I Think We’re Alone Now,” and other hits from Tommy James and the Shondells, the Rotary Club of Ridgefield, Connecticut, USA was coming up clover, too.

James headlined the club’s End Polio Now Concert, which raised $220,000 in April.

Tommy James and the Shondells performed at a Rotary Club of Ridgefield, Connecticut, USA concert, which raised $220,000 for polio.

Club member Robert Herber had contacted Ridgefield resident Brad Joblin, a music producer who had a connection with James through work earlier in his career. 

“Robert said he wanted to do something big,” Joblin says. “He didn’t want two guys with acoustic guitars. I suggested Tommy James, and the club agreed.” 

With James on board, the club was off and running. It had just four months to prepare for the concert at the Ridgefield Playhouse, where Joblin is a board member.

“We said, ‘Well, it’s a gamble, but let’s go,’” says Sue Manning, who was among four Rotarians who took lead roles in nailing down business sponsorships, publicizing the event, organizing a live auction, and planning logistics. They had 550 tickets to sell at $97 each. They sold every one.

“Everybody came together,” Manning says. “You really need to pump it up to get that kind of money.”

Adds Herber, “The team was small, but the resources were stellar.”

The 2-to-1 match from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation helped persuade 20 businesses and families to kick in $2,500 each for sponsorships. Sponsors were invited to a reception with James and received a signed copy of his book, Me, the Mob, and the Music: A Helluva Ride with Tommy James and the Shondells.

Herber notes that the money raised in one night, including the match, exceeded the club’s total contributions to The Rotary Foundation since the club was founded in 1941.

Just like the Rotarians, James enjoyed being part of all the good vibrations the concert created. 

“It was heartwarming to see the beautiful town of Ridgefield come together in support of such a worthy global cause,” James says. “It was a remarkable evening for me, which I will never forget.”

While Joblin played a vital role, he credits the Ridgefield club for making the event such a success. “It exceeded all expectations. That was because of the power of the Rotarians to go to the community for support, and the community responded.”


— Annemarie Mannion