Anne Ford 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Maybe you saw him on Oprah back in the day, giving tips on how to fight fatigue or lose weight. Or maybe you watch him now on his own Emmy Award-winning television program, discussing cancer-fighting breakfast foods, inexpensive treatments for pain or strategies to supercharge your immune system. Possibly you own one or more of his New York Times best-selling books such as “YOU The Owner’s Manual: An Insider’s Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger.” Or you’ve seen him popping up on the “Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “The View” or “Larry King Live” (or on the pages ofO, Esquire or Time magazines). Wherever you’ve encountered that smiling, dark-haired man in the surgical scrubs, you know his name: Dr. Oz. He’s everywhere. And now he’s a Lion. Dr. Mehmet C. Oz— vice-chair and professor of surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, attending surgeon at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/ Columbia University Medical Center, and one of the most trusted and familiar health-care figures in America—now has another credential to add to his name: membership in the world’s largest service club organization. “I’ve known the Lions since I was a little kid,” says Dr. Oz. “I love their energy. I’ve always admired the fact that they are involved with health in a way that is uplifting and celebratory. My interactions with them have always been so pleasurable, and that’s contagious.” So how and where did Dr. Oz catch Lion fever? It all began with a phone call. Several months ago, Lion Esther Lee (the governor of District 4 C4, which encompasses the San Francisco Peninsula) found herself scrambling. One of the speakers for the district’s daylong health symposium, “Body Mind Spirit,” had canceled, and she was under the gun to locate a replacement. In stepped Lion Eleanor Lindquist-Britter, membership chair of the Peninsula Special Interest Lions Club. She told Lee, “Maybe I can get someone for you.” She called Dr. Oz’s office, and, to everyone’s delight, the doctor agreed to deliver the symposium’s keynote address at the Oracle Auditorium in Redwood City, California, on March 10. On the day of the symposium, the attendees were thrilled to hear a speaker of Dr. Oz’s caliber—and Lee and the other Lions in attendance were just as thrilled that the doctor seemed keen to learn more about the organization. “I found him to be very interested in the Lions,” remembers Lee. “Every time he had a break, he would ask about the Lions. I think the more he heard, the more he liked it.” Dr. Oz says he was especially intrigued by what he heard about the newly chartered Peninsula Special Interest Lions Club. Founded earlier this year by Lindquist-Britter and her husband, Bill Britter, the club is still in its early stages but plans to focus primarily on health care initiatives. A little more than half its 39 members are medical professionals. “I was intrigued that they [the Peninsula club] saw the creation of wellness clinics as part of their mission,” the doctor says. For example, in April, the club worked with a local medical clinic to conduct blood pressure and glucose screenings at an Earth Day fair in Foster City. Similar, larger events are in the works, Lindquist-Britter says. Talk of initiatives such as those seemed to align with Dr. Oz’s own belief in the importance of community health-care efforts—including his own HealthCorps, a nonprofit organization that brings health education to schools. So when asked if he’d like to join the Lions, Dr. Oz accepted with enthusiasm. (A short video clip of his induction by District Governor Lee is available online at www.lions4c4.org.) Of course, the Peninsula club is equally enthusiastic about having him join their ranks. “He’s a very down-toearth kind of person, with no false airs about him whatsoever, and he really lives and believes what he promotes,” says Audrey Ng, club president. “It’s very exciting.” Now that he’s been inducted as a Lion, “I’m able to roar with pride,” Dr. Oz says with a smile in his voice. And roar he plans to, in conjunction with his fellow Lions. At the time the LION went to press, plans were afoot to have Lions volunteer at a Dr. Oz-organized health fair in Philadelphia in May. District Governor Lee, along with Lindquist-Britter and her husband, were planning to visit the fair in order to learn more about the logistics of large events such as these and to spark ideas for their own health initiatives back in the San Francisco area. And after that? The possibilities for partnership are huge, Dr. Oz says. “If we want to do some charitable mission for health— it could be a 10-city challenge, it could be a race—the Lions would be an obvious place to call,” he says. “Anywhere you want to improve the health care of the community, the Lions are a logical partner.” It’s the sheer ubiquity of Lions clubs that makes them such a powerful force for positive change, he adds. “I’m proud of what our show has done, but we’re a TV show at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City,” he says. “Lions are in every community in America. A show like mine is good as a bullhorn, getting the word out. Whereas the Lions can drive change in the community, because they have been around for so long and are so embedded.” Still, considering that he receives thousands of requests from charitable organizations, what brought him to choose to join the Lions in particular? “There’s only one Lions,” he says firmly. “You’re a unique organization.” “What you’re doing in health care is what I want to do,” he finishes. “We both see that the betterment of society is integrally woven into the betterment of the health of the people.”
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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