Hot Dog! Wieners Run Wild Just because their legs are short and stubby, don’t write the dachshund off when it comes to winning a race. With a field of hundreds competing, these peppy little dogs are the heroes of Buda, Texas, every year during the Wiener Dog Races and Country Fair sponsored by the Buda Lions Club. The event features a barbecue cook-off, live music, an arts and crafts sale, food vendors and lots of laughs, provided by the low-to-the-ground, floppy-eared and fierce competitors loping down the track being cajoled and cheered on to victory. Winning may not be everything, but in Buda, it’s certainly nothing to sniff about—at least for the dogs. There’s a gift basket of doggie treats for the wiener champ, a trophy and a $500 check for the owner. “I don’t know whose idea this was 15 years ago to make this a fundraiser, but boy, am I glad they did,” says Paul Garcia, the owner of three dachshunds who has attended every race. “The event is always filled with hundreds of spectators.” The race first began at the suggestion of Lion Diane Krecji, explains Lion Nancy Handrick. “After laughing and poking fun, the club agreed to this project,” Handrick recalls. It turned out to be the club’s biggest fundraiser. “After we pay all expenses, we walk away with about $15,000,” says Handrick. The funds primarily help support local youth activities and provide scholarships. “The first year we had a mere 35 dogs racing. We now race around 400 dogs on a twoday weekend—contestants and fans traveling from all over Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Missouri, Colorado, Connecticut and Ottawa, Canada, to attend,” adds Handrick. There are seven slots on track. “Each dog is given a colored collar which distinguishes it from other dogs because they never run in straight lines,” she points out. “Those short legs move very fast through those 70 feet!” No matter how hard owners try to entice them, some still tend to wander because they’re curious creatures. “It’s fun to watch the owners with their squeaky toys yelling for their dogs to get to the finish line first,” she says. First- and second-place winners from each race then move on through a series of qualifying races to participate in the finals. The race is so famous that it has been the subject of two documentaries (one titled, “Lord of the Wiens: A Dachumentary) and several YouTube videos. Humans and dogs mix companionably. Although only dachshunds or dachshund- mixes are allowed to race, about a third of the visitors bring their pets to the event. It is, after all, a day that inevitably goes to the dogs. Stand Down is a Stand-Up Project Torrington, Connecticut, Lion Phil Dzurnak, was familiar with the term “Stand Down” from his four years of service in the military. It means ceasing military action. Putting that term to use in his own community, however, was a new concept, but one that he and other members of his Torrington Lions Club readily embraced when it came to standing up for those who’ve served their country honorably. Created by veterans to assist their fellow veterans in need, a Stand Down is an intervention to help them within their own communities. Sometimes jobless, homeless or beset with medical and other problems, they may not know how to find appropriate local services. Lions had previously donated $1,000 to FISH, an agency that provides food and shelter for people in need. At the suggestion of District 23 B 2nd Vice District Governor and Torrington Lion Dan DiVirgilio, the two decided to join forces to sponsor a “Stand Down” event to provide state, federal and private sector services including health screenings to veterans. More than 400 veterans attended, and many were shuttled by transportation arranged by Lions to and from neighboring towns. Some were homeless or staying at the FISH shelter and required medical services. Others needed jobs and help finding other assistance. Veterans were given goodie bags filled with toiletries and basic necessities and encouraged to choose clothing and other donated articles such as books and book bags, stationery and what Dzurnak says was the most popular choice—razors. Kids Support Community Service Nancy Craker-Yahman says it wasn’t until her oldest son reached eighth grade that she learned about the generosity of Lions in Hadley, Massachusetts. Lions had been giving dictionaries to sixth grade classes at Hadley Elementary School since 1979. When her second son reached 6th grade, “I knew we needed to do something to thank the Hadley Lions,” she emphasizes. She thought that the best way to show appreciation to Lions was to support them. In 2011, Craker-Yahman and teachers created a service-learning program for sixth graders. Students embraced the project by collecting 400 pairs of glasses for Lions. “They’ve continuously sorted the glasses and kept count of donations we’ve received,” she says. “They’ll soon be active participants in sorting, cleaning and packing them. We’re learning about Lions’ missions and decorating and placing handmade donation boxes in convenient locations around town to encourage further eyeglass donation.” “We have a long history of helping the school system here with scholarships, lighting, band trips, sports programs and, of course, eyeglasses and exams for those students in need,” says Lion Richard Milardo. “We spend $25 for each dictionary, which has a recipient’s name and the Lions logo inside the front cover. This is the first time, however, that students have collaborated with our club.” Craker-Yahman was, in fact, so impressed with what she learned about Lions that she’s now a new member of the Amherst Lions Club.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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