First Roar YOUNGEST LION JOINS THE FOLD At the stroke of midnight on her 18th birthday on March 20 Victoria Simmons said her “I dos” to become a Lion, making the Connecticut teenager the world’s youngest Lion. Simmons joined her mother, Gayla, and grandfather, Richard Oat, as a member of the Willimantic Lions Club. The club normally meets earlier in the evening, but more than a dozen members burned the midnight oil to attend the induction at a restaurant. Simmons has assisted on club projects for several years. “I like helping my grandfather,” says Simmons, a high school senior who plans to attend college and become a chef. WAR HERO WAS A LION A Lion later in his life, Roy Matsumoto displayed brilliance and bravery in the jungles of Burma during World War II that made him a hero and the subject of an award-winning documentary. A resident of San Juan Island, Washington, Matsumoto died at age 100 in April. Until a few weeks before his death, he was riding in his family car helping to collect eyeglasses for the San Juan Island Lions Club, according to the Journal of the San Juan Islands. During the war, Matsumoto was one of the famed Merrill’s Marauders. His Japanese language skills, as well as his courage, enabled his unit, on the brink of being wiped out, to defeat a Japanese battalion. His story, including his family’s internment during the war, is told in “Honor & Sacrifice: The Roy Matsumoto Story.” The 28-minute documentary recently won a prestigious film award once won by Ken Burns. Digital LION View an excerpt of “Honor & Sacrifice: The Roy Matsumoto Story” at lionmagazine.org. The film can be ordered from honordoc.com. FINAL DAY DEVOTED TO LION MINTS A Calgary TV crew accompanied Lion Ken Willis as he made his rounds stocking offices and businesses with Lion mints and collecting the donated cash. The 85-year-old Canadian was to be featured on the news as an Inspired Albertan. He died that day of complications from diabetes. After talking with his widow, Joyce, and Lions, CTV Calgary decided to air his story. Since 1992, Willis had collected about $113,000, amounting to 260,000 rolls of mints. Willis had lost sight in one eye from diabetes. The funds he collected went toward Lions Village, a 90-unit senior citizens residence. The segment also included an interview with Luella Lind, a fellow member of the Calgary Lions Club whom Willis had groomed as his successor. Digital LION View the TV story on Willis at lionmagazine.org. BLINDNESS DECLINES IN DEVELOPED NATIONS Despite an aging population, blindness and visual impairment have become less common in developed nations in the last 20 years mostly because of the prevalence of cataract surgeries. In Europe, the rates of blindness plummeted 50 percent from 1990 to 2010, according to BMJ, a British medical journal. Declines in the United States and Canada were not nearly as steep, but rates there were already low by international standards. The rate of moderate to severe visual impairment in the United States and Canada decreased from 0.8 percent to 0.6 percent. The blindness rate in the United States and Canada held steady at 0.1 percent; the global rate is 0.5 percent. Globally, cataracts are the leading cause of blindness while macular degeneration is the No. 1 cause in developed nations. ONE OF US KRISTA WENDT BRASSFIELD Krista Wendt Brassfield hit the ground running early in life. A Junior Olympics track and field running champion at age 11, Wendt Brassfield learned young that she could dream big as long as she backed it up with hard work. An architect and owner of a design and construction management firm in Holister, California, this visionary dynamo has worked on everything from the electricity pavilion at the 1993 World’s Fair in Korea to mansions in Beverly Hills. But as a certified green builder, her passion lies with developing efficient and affordable housing. And after a fortunate mistaken- identity meeting with the Cabrillo Host Lions, her contagious enthusiasm is helping the club to grow and flourish. You met the Lions somewhat accidentally? I go running every day with my two dogs in a big park across the street from my house. I noticed some older men doing great work on the park. I’m an independent contractor and I thought I might hire them! Eventually I talked to them and realized they were Lions. When they invited me to a picnic, I joined then and there. A fellow club member said she doesn’t think she’s ever heard you say no to anything. (Laughs) Well, I’m like a kid in a candy store! I just love helping out and seeing people prosper around me, whether it’s with our Leo club, at a beach cleanup or at our weekly Bingo game. That’s what I love about my work too. It must be great to see a client’s vision become reality. I’ve worked on thousands of building projects, but my real focus is helping low-income families have quality, affordable housing. By building with less waste and more energy efficiency, it is possible. I also work with a county program that renovates historical homes to be more efficient so people can afford to live in them. What else is in the works? I’m developing a prototype for a very green, inexpensive, modular housing concept that’s never been done before. It’s top secret right now, but I’m very excited about it! Where can you be found when you’re not working or with the Lions? My husband’s family has a winery in Clear Lake, so we love to go there. We also love to get out on our boat as much as we can. Does your background in competitive running help you to have the drive to do so much? I think so. I qualified for the Olympics in 1984, but I sprained my ankle right before the games. That was hard, but I’m actually kind of glad now. If I had focused just on athletics I might not have the career, the Lions and the life I have now. Do you know a Lion who you think has a great story or deserves a bit of recognition? Email us a brief description of the Lion and the reason you’re making the nomination to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include “One of Us” in the subject line. BY THE NUMBERS 16 Oversized fiddlers decorated by local artists unveiled at the annual Port Barre Cracklin Festival run by Port Barre Lions in Louisiana. The fiddles were for a public art exhibit in Opelousas. 500 Maximum number of words for essays on “How I Plan To Use My Abilities to Serve Others” in a contest for graduating high school seniors sponsored by Laurel Community Lions in Kentucky. Winners received a $250 scholarship. 24 ¾ Length in inches of the winning catch in the Walleye Derby held by Cicero-Mattydale Lions in New York that drew 1,900 anglers. 518 State-of-the-art hearing aids provided at low cost over the past three years to low-income seniors and families by the Hearing Aid Bank in District 11 A2 in Michigan in a partnership with E.N.T. Surgical Associates. 300+ Needy children treated to a hearty breakfast by Dundee Township Lions in Illinois before a Shop with a Cop outing. 322 Kite kits for children sold by Parksville Lions at their annual Kitefest in British Columbia, Canada. 850 Pounds of crab served at the record-breaking crab feast of the Huntington Beach Host Lions in California. 59 YEARS AGO IN THE LION AUGUST 1955 As the Little League World Series nears, the LION remembers Carl E. Stotz of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, a Lion who founded Little League in 1939. Stotz wanted to provide an organized program for his two nephews who played baseball, and he traveled widely appealing to Lions clubs, YMCAs and Sunday school classes to support his idea. Digital LION Read the full story at lionmagazine.org. OVERHEARD P-A-N-E-G-Y-R-I-C –The winning word in the annual adult spelling bee held by Spotsylvania Lions in Virginia. The winning team was from a newspaper in Fredericksburg. “It was like an old-fashioned barn raising.” –William Tolbert on the upgrades to a park done by his club, the Martins Ferry Lions in Ohio. From the Times Leader. “You could say it was a seed that grew into a pretty big tree.” –John Wunderlich, 90, detailing the accomplishments of the Aurora Lions Club in Indiana, chartered in 1947. He’s the sole surviving charter member. From the Dearborn County Register. CLUB of the MONTH STONEY CREEK, ONTARIO, CANADA YEAR FOUNDED: 1961 MEETINGS AND MEMBERS: Every first and third Tuesday the Lions meet in their own hall for a home cooked meal and club business. With a small membership of 14, the Lions consider themselves to be like a family business. Three senior members guide the club with their vast experience, while the newer members offer new ideas to try out. ADOLESCENT ASSISTANCE: The Lions rely on volunteers for big events where a lot of hands are needed. After reaching out to local schools, they now have a force of 35 teenagers ready to jump in and help out, as they did for a recent Earth Day cleanup. The Lions have gained more than the exuberance of the young volunteers—three parents have become new Lions. CASTING A LINE FOR SERVICE: Every summer the Lions stock a pond with trout and hold their popular Fishing Derby. Children and adults begin lining up before registration starts at 6:30 a.m. so they can fish from their favorite spots. The event raises up to $5,000 for Camp Trillium, which offers free recreational experiences for children with cancer. HONORING LOCAL HISTORY: This community has its place in history as the site of the War of 1812’s Battle of Stoney Creek. Each summer the national historic site hosts a festival that includes a reenactment of the battle, homesteading demonstrations, music and fireworks. The Lions show their support by serving a bacon and eggs breakfast and hot coffee to the reenactment participants. MAKING WISHES COME TRUE: The Lions host the annual Walk for Wishes and barbecue to raise funds for Children’s Wish, a nonprofit that grants wishes for children living with life-threatening illnesses. The walk always makes for a special day and fun memories: last year a bride, wedding gown and all, and wedding party took part in the walk. WHY SERVE? “After the Lions sponsored our daughter for a Youth Exchange, we felt it was our duty to get involved. It’s no longer a duty, but an honor to be Lions. Being a Lion is knowing that at the end of the day, you made a difference.“ –Lion Alison Lennox Digital LION Read about the Digital LION Club of the Month at lionmagazine.org.
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