Deep-Freeze Fishing Fun Brien Smeltzer, an avid ice angler, didn’t let a recent arm surgery stop him from ice fishing in Minnesota. His wife, Sandy, who does not fish, even went along. Sheltered from the bitter cold, the couple spent two hours inside the cozy Lions Senior Citizen Fish House on Hanging Kettle Lake. Smeltzer, a Lion, fished, and Sandy chatted amiably with a 92-yearold fisherman. When she told her husband what a good time she had, Smeltzer looked at her and replied, “I’ve always said, sometimes it’s not just about the fishing.” Aitkin Lions have made possible such moments of leisure and contentment— and most of all, fishing—for 20 years. In the Land of 10,000 Lakes (an understatement since there are actually 11,842), ice fishing is a popular activity. The 8- by 18-foot fish house has nine holes and is stocked with several fishing rods. Lions provide upkeep for the fish house and occasionally fish there themselves, but its primary users are senior citizens and those with disabilities including the blind and amputees. In the dead of winter Lions go through a 100-pound cylinder of propane weekly to heat the shelter to a comfortable “shirtsleeves warm” temperature, says Lion Tom Plagman. LED lights run off regular car batteries, which are powered by a solar charger. The club spends only about $200 on annual maintenance. State guidelines declare the ice has to be a minimum of 12 inches deep for a light truck to drive on it. Lions play it safe. “Our fish house goes out when there are at least 18 inches of ice,” points outs Plagman. A lake resident plows the access when the snow is too deep for Glen and Brien Smeltzer, father and son, to do it on their ATVs. This is the club’s second fish house. Lions auctioned off the first when it became too difficult to maintain. The second, purchased with funds from a local agency and $6,000 from Lions in 2005, is a much sturdier commercial shelter with a winch to lower and raise it. Lions attend to routine chores such as cleaning out iced-up holes. Ice and cold are recurring themes for the fish house. Plagman clearly recalls his first shift ever at the shelter years ago: “The thermometer on my truck read minus 16 degrees Fahrenheit.” Lions Light Up the Holidays With more than 7,500 LED bulbs to remove, clean and replace in their annual festive snowflake decorations in Pennsylvania, Dupont Lions were looking at a huge job until Lion Daniel Lello—who is also mayor of the nearly 3,000-resident borough—spoke to Boy Scout Troop 316. His message about community leadership clearly resonated with troop members. Assisted by family and friends, Scouts and Lions refurbished and replaced all bulbs in the 65 oversize snowflake street decorations in six hours. “As quick as we brought them in, the Scouts had them cleaned and replaced and ready to go,” says Christopher Kalmanowicz. Lions have paid for and provided Christmas lights for the community since the 1950s, he explains. “When we first started doing it, it was one little string of lights. People used to let us plug the lights into their home outlets.” The LED lights Lions purchased for the lighting have significantly cut the cost of electricity. “We paid $2,000 to light them before we made the switch to LED bulbs four years ago,” explains Kalmanowicz. “Now it’s around $600.” Walking (Painfully) in Solidarity Five days after a project co-sponsored by the East Tennessee State University (ETSU) Lions Club ended, 20-yearold Brandon Johnson’s feet were still blistered and bandaged. He says he didn’t really mind the excruciating pain since it was all for a good cause, but was very happy to trade in his stylish red women’s pumps for comfy sneakers. Johnson participated in Walk a Mile in Her Shoes. Sponsored by the campus counseling center, Johnson and other Lions were among 150 male students who did, indeed, walk a torturous mile in heels. Women who participated wore gender- neutral clothing like T-shirts and jeans and comfortable walking shoes. “You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes,” Johnson explains. “It’s not easy walking in these shoes, but it gets the community talking about something that is really difficult to talk about: gender relations, rape and sexual assault.” According to the Association of American University Women, 19 percent of women reported attempted or completed sexual assaults since they entered college. Lions were immediately eager to join the counseling center’s campaign in supporting awareness of what has been called a silent epidemic on college campuses. “While fraternities and sororities sported their Greek letters, Lions were proud to sport their yellow vests,” Johnson says. “I found this event to be much tougher than I thought it would be. Shopping for size 14 women’s heels with my girlfriend Tessa was pretty embarrassing, especially for her.” Since most college students are budget-conscious, the center provided heels that could be rented specifically for the walk. Johnson rose to the occasion and made it the full mile walking along a busy four-lane highway with other guys in heels. “Traffic was a little hectic, and many cars slowed down to watch or honk,” he says. It may have been to promote a worthy cause, but Johnson says he’d really be reluctant to wear heels again. “It was terrible. I don’t know how women do it,” he admits. The ETSU Campus Lions organize a service activity each month. “Our ages range from 18 to a 42- year-old student who’s a mother of five,” Johnson says. There are also several blind or visually impaired students as well as some international members whose primary language is not English. “We’re as diverse as the world is,” he points out. Frozen, Lions-Style, in Lake Milton, Ohio Two brave men went in … and jumped right back out. They did manage to immerse themselves in the freezing waters of Lake Milton, Ohio, because, after all, that was the point of The American Cancer Society’s Brrr for a Cure Polar Bear Plunge. Tom Zickefoose, 2013-14 district 13 D governor and a Girard Lion, had previously participated in the East Liverpool Lions Club’s Relay for Life team with Lion Bob Allgood, the district’s current 1st vice district governor. The two friends decided to go one step further last year by plunging into the lake—only after the fire department was able to carve out a dipping area in the 24-inch-thick ice. Zickefoose and Allgood were among 500 jumpers and nearly 1,500 spectators gathered at the shores of the ice-crusted lake to watch the action. By accepting pledges from the district, family and friends, the pair raised nearly $2,000 to fight cancer. “I did it to fight cancer because I’m a survivor. The water was cold, but I felt great once I came out,” Zickefoose says. Zickefoose and Allgood were among 500 jumpers and nearly 1,500 spectators gathered at the shores of the ice-crusted lake to watch the action. By accepting pledges from the district, family and friends, the pair raised nearly $2,000 to fight cancer. “I did it to fight cancer because I’m a survivor. The water was cold, but I felt great once I came out,” Zickefoose says.
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