Texas Lions Sit High in the [Bike] Saddle Brownsville Downtown Lion Ray Hughston has a friendly, furry little reminder of a bike ride he took last summer with other Texas Lions. Her name is Chiquita. A tiny mutt who now insists on sleeping at Hughston’s feet, she was found in one of the many towns Lions passed through on a ride from Brownsville to the Texas Lions Camp in Kerrville to celebrate the camp’s 65th anniversary. “Yeah, she came up to us when we were sitting around having lunch one day in a warehouse lot, a sweet little thing with no collar, obviously abandoned and hungry. So we fed her and decided to take her home. She’s my favorite memory,” Hughston, a past international director, says fondly. He rode about 240 miles and says he might have made it the entire distance if the weather had been better. “It was cold and rainy a good part of the way.” While the number of riders varied from 10 to 20, the core group included avid cyclist Hughston and his son, Chris, also a Lion. “He’s just a kid. Only 52,” his father says with a chuckle. Others included Nancy Gayman, Sonia Figueredo and Bill Wade, 75. Martha Cramer was among Lions who provided ground support for the team. “We stopped at RV parks overnight,” she says. “We had travel trailers, motor homes and a pop-up camper.” Lions screened 370 children, most of them preschoolers, at 11 locations along the way. The screenings were scheduled by other clubs along the 343-mile route to Kerrville. Some of those club members joined the Brownsville Lions as they passed through town. “We had one Lion who made it only a mile,” adds Hughston, who once rode 1,500 miles to San Diego to help raise $150,000 for Lions. “We had a few others who made it the whole way. It didn’t matter because this ride wasn’t a fundraiser. The important thing was that we really got a lot of publicity about Lions and the camp. We had some TV and newspaper crews follow us, and we were able to talk about Lions and what we do.” Figueredo, a 20-year-old college student, says, “I knew from the getgo that this wouldn’t be easy.” She serves as the club’s mascot, so she donned the heavy Lion costume at screenings. “You have no idea how many times my lion tail was pulled,” she says good-naturedly. She believes she made lifelong friendships on the ride. “I experienced some of the best home cooking and Texas hospitality from our own Lions. I really got to know everyone better on a personal level,” she says. Her favorite memory? “Nothing beats the sound of dead silence and seeing wild peacocks in the middle of a cool Texas night.” She also made a new biking buddy in Ray Hughston. “When we got back, I fixed up her bike a little,” he says. “I have a garage full of bikes, so I pulled a bunch of parts off some to make it a little easier for her to keep on riding.” Serving up Some Fun in Maryland “Hi, Mr. Hot Dog!” That’s a cheerful greeting Fruitland Lions in Maryland hear often when they’re out and about town. They just smile when they hear the happy shout-out. They know it’s a client of Lower Shores Enterprises (LSE) in Salisbury, which provides employment for adults with disabilities. Lion Murray Shores says that in the past 18 years since club members first started serving monthly lunches, they’ve cooked and dished out more than 65,000 hot dogs along with all the trimmings—apple sauce, potato salad, baked beans, chips, salad, soda and dessert. “They all love our hot dogs. Some of the clients are 60 or 70 years old, and it’s like a picnic when we come there. Nobody knows our names so we’re just ‘the hot dog people,’” he says. The project began when Lion Bill Tribeck, whose son Michael, 53, a client since 18, retired and was asked by LSE to volunteer at a picnic. Two years later, Tribeck was still serving lunches to clients when he was joined by Lion Norm Griffin. “It kind of grew from there,” Shores explains. “As other Lions retired, they’d come and help out, too,” adds Tribeck, who says seven to eight Lions regularly volunteer together on the last Friday of every month serving approximately 200 clients. They’ve already worn out one grill and recently replaced it to keep up with the demand. Cold Weather, Warm Hearts When the thermometer plunges outside, the polar bears get moving in New York. Polar bears in name only, these hardy humans embrace the frigid weather to raise money for community service projects of the Lisbon and Ogdensburg Lions clubs. The two clubs are located within 10 miles of each other in the northern part of the state along the U.S.-Canada border and often collaborate on activities, says Marsha Snyder of the 25-member Lisbon Lions Club. Snyder says the idea for a Polar Bear 5K Run/Walk originated with Past President Rhonda Roethel. “It was a way to promote Lions and the camaraderie between the two clubs. We also saw a great fundraising opportunity during our long winters,” she explains. “Since we are directly on the U.S.-Canada border, we always have participants from Canada. Each year we have three gentlemen in their late 70s from Ottawa, Ontario and Montreal join in the race,” Snyder says. Held on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, the location is only one hour from Ft. Drum, an army base, so soldiers also participate. “One year, we had a soldier propose to his girlfriend, a runner, after she completed the event. Then he deployed to Afghanistan, and his now-wife participated in the race,” Snyder says. The couple told Lions that they intend to always participate in the event, no matter where they’re living in the future. The clubs advertise their fundraiser in local and Canadian newspapers, on radio, in schools, fitness centers, to a running organization and on Facebook. Partners in Service in Arizona The 250-million-year-old striking, showy red rocks of Sedona, Arizona, are world-famous natural wonders. The secret of the colorful sandstone rock formations is iron. When water enters the porous formations, the iron in water tinges the rocks red. But there’s another vital partnership that’s been formed in Sedona that has nothing to do with water and sandstone and everything to do with working together for others. Oak Creek Canyon Lions in Sedona are joining with students at the Verde Valley School (VVS) to distribute donated eyeglasses in Malawi. The college preparatory boarding school has more than 100 students from 18 nations and service abroad is part of its curriculum. Students have been traveling to Malawi since 2007 helping to build homes, paint schools and distribute medical equipment among other projects. VVS staffer Caroline Diehl explains that the school encourages students to make a positive difference in the world by actively volunteering. “It feels a little bit like a miracle the way it all came together with Lions,” she says. Before connecting with Randy Crewse, she’d been searching for a new project in which to engage classes. Sedona Oak Creek Canyon Lion Crewse first learned from a friend three years ago that VVS students visited Malawi, as well as other countries, to do service activities. He believed Lions could partner with them to personally deliver donated lenses into the hands of those who need them. “It took just one lunch [with Crewse] to launch our collaboration,” Diehl recalls of their first meeting. “We could never have done this on our own,” points out Crewse. “It works out great. Everyone’s a winner. We get to do a project with real impact, the Verde Valley School kids get to see the fruits of their labor first-hand and people in Malawi get the gift of sight.” The students now personally deliver donated eyeglasses collected by Arizona Lions. It’s a learning experience for students as well as Lions. Dr. Serge Wright, a Lion since 1973 and one of the Oak Creek Canyon club’s 12 members, owns Sedona Eye Care. He donates the office as the hub for eyeglass processing, teaching students how to use lensometers to read prescriptions and how to gather, clean and sort eyeglasses. Lions work right alongside them. Crewse, whose wife, Milton, is also a Lion, reached out through the Internet to an eye doctor at a Lions-supported clinic in Blantyre in Malawi to learn if there were any specific vision needs to be met. There were, so Wright arranged for expensive specialty lenses and frames to be donated by optics manufacturers to several severely-impaired children. “They’d been learning to read Braille before their new high-powered lenses arrived,” says Crewse. Students not only deliver the glasses, they also help fit them to people at the clinic. More than 2,500 pairs have been cleaned, sorted and delivered so far. Watch an upbeat video on the Verde Valley students’ mission to Malawi at lionmagazine.org.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
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