Jay Copp 2015-09-12 09:58:29
Lions At Home Amid Honolulu’s Aloha Spirit The sun shone steadily on palm trees, bronzed surfers gracefully rode the waves with Diamond Head as a stunning backdrop and hula dancers swiveled their hips at evening shows on Waikiki Beach. Honolulu lived up to its advance billing as a tropical getaway as it superbly hosted the 98th International Convention in the last week of June. Lions are an adaptive species, exemplified at convention. Eschewing the customary suit, International President Joe Preston wore a casual Hawaiian shirt, as did many fellow board members, conventioneers and LCI staff. A Hawaiian kicked off the parade of nations with a traditional native blessing and ceremoniously blew into a shell. Leos enjoyed themselves at a luau, and Preston took to the stage at a plenary session carrying a surfboard customized with the Lions logo. “There’s no truth to the rumor I surfed to Hawaii,” he cracked wise. Digital LION OK, so you didn’t make it to Hawaii for the convention. The next best thing is to watch a lively video of the convention highlights and read the inspirational talks at lionmagazine.org. • Tim Shriver of Special Olympics tells about an episode that he believes led his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, to appeal to Americans to “ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” • Kirk Caldwell, mayor of Honolulu, invokes the wars of the past and hails the diversity of Lions in heralding better times ahead. • 2014-15 International President Joe Preston explains how two tragic airplane crashes involving a basketball star can motivate Lions. • 2015-16 International President Dr. Jitsuhiro Yamada describes how Lions can learn from the teamwork of cranes. • Our Humanitarian Award winner pledges to help the beleaguered children of war-battered Syria. “A-lo-ha!” the genial Kirk Caldwell, mayor of Honolulu, welcomed Lions at the packed first plenary session. Lions responded but Caldwell greeted Lions a second and then a third time. “A-lo-ha!” Lions thundered back finally to his satisfaction. Caldwell knew Lions were in a responsive mood; the prevailing sentiment at the convention was gratification. “How many of you are thinking now, I wish I had bought a one-way ticket?” the high-spirited Preston joked at the second plenary session. More than 18,000 Lions and guests from 134 countries descended on Honolulu, which hosted the 83rd convention in 2000. The electric undercurrent at the convention was the connection Lions sought and found with flesh-and-blood fellow Lions as well as the warm, open-armed spirit of service. “You see people you see at convention,” said Ken Reed, a member of the Ackley Geneva Lions Club in Iowa since 1974 and a veteran of about a dozen international conventions. Reed’s trip to Hawaii meant he had visited all 50 states, and he was on a mission at the convention to collect 14 more state pins from 2015 to give him a complete set. On the other end of the spectrum were Lions such as 31-year-old Mariessa Maughan, who joined the Salt Lake City Red Butte Lions Club in 2013. Her grandfather was a Lion, and she works as an eye care specialist. “I feel very blessed to be a Lion,” said Maughan, who is club president despite being a relative newcomer. “I’m here to learn as much as I can.” The convention underscored the connections among Lions and with Lionism. Scott Quinlan of the Huntington Beach Host Lions Club in California says his blindness is no impediment to service. “I think I can serve as an inspiration to others in the community,” he said in the convention hall, where multitudes of Lions chatted with LCI staff, browsed exhibits, traded pins or sat down for lunch with Lions across the world. Judy Mensforth of the Helensvale Lions Club in Australia was determined to track down Ole Engedal, a district governor-elect from Denmark whose daughter she befriended when the daughter was a Lions’ exchange student in Australia. “I just love getting to know Lions and learning more about them,” said Mensforth. Preston served as the host of the convention. On his penultimate day as president, during a rendition of “Already Gone” by an Eagles tribute band, he abruptly and comically walked onto stage carrying a beat-up suitcase, signifying both his extensive travels and the end of his term as president. A singer and songwriter, Preston grabbed a microphone and finished the song, and then he and the band ably performed “Strengthen the Pride,” his catchy theme song. Preston took a more serious turn during his farewell speech. He saluted Lions for their service and membership success and exhorted them to redouble their efforts. “Lions, we need to roar with intensity, roar with conviction. We need to tell the world who we are, what we’re doing, why they should support us and why they should join us,” he said. “And that is not something that we just have to do this year. It is something we need to do, year after year.” Preston’s talk was bookended by the speech of Dr. Jitsuhiro Yamada of Japan, whom Lions elected as the 2015-16 international president. The neurosurgeon took charge of the festivities in the third and final plenary. Delivering his speech in Japanese, Yamada emphasized teamwork. “We are all the crew of a ship in the ocean,” he said. “We can only steer in the right direction when all crew members are united under a mission. The ship moves smoothly only when each member of the crew fulfills his responsibility by using his special talent.” The keynoter was Tim Shriver, a Lion who is chairman of Special Olympics. One of the first races in the history of Special Olympics in the 1960s exemplified what the organization was all about and still provides lessons for today. A runner had stumbled as he neared the finish line. “The one in second who could see the finish line—maybe for the first time have a chance to be cheered and what does he do?” Shriver related. “He stops and turns around. He picks up his fallen friend, puts his arm over his shoulder and crosses the finish line. In what, last place, right? Wrong! “I think the athletes of Special Olympics teach us that you could win by who you beat. And you could also win by who you help. Winning isn’t where you finish. It’s how you finish, too.” After his address, Shriver and the LCI executive officers signed a memorandum of understanding to take the partnership between Lions and Special Olympics to a new level. Besides supporting Opening Eyes, screenings and eyeglasses for athletes, Lions also now will support Unified Sports, which involves sports training and competition both for those with intellectual disabilities and those without. Lions also will expand membership opportunities for athletes in Lions clubs and promote health through hearing programs. Other convention highlights included the presentation of the Humanitarian Award to Save the Children and its work among Syrian children, battered by war; a segment on the Lions centennial by Past International President J. Frank Moore III of Alabama and the election of 17 first-year international directors and Naresh Aggarwal of India as second international vice president. Aggarwal will succeed First Vice President Chancellor Bob Corlew of Tennessee as president in 2017-18. LCIF Chairperson Barry J. Palmer of Australia detailed the successes of the Foundation in saving sight, meeting humanitarian needs, providing disaster relief and supporting youth. Palmer also praised the tremendous support of Lions for LCIF; prior to Honolulu donations topped $38 million in fiscal year 2014-15. The generosity continued at the convention. Past District Governor Aruna Oswal of India announced during a plenary that the Oswal Trust will give $1 million to LCIF for 40 medical vans. That gift and other donations made at the convention boosted total giving past $40 million. Lions pride ourselves as being agents of change, and Caldwell, the mayor, recognized how the world has changed and how Lions play a part in that. He pointed out that the anniversaries of the battle of Okinawa, the atomic bombing of Japan and the start of the Korean War had just occurred or would occur soon. “So much hate in the world, and you are so much about love and service,” he said. “Aloha means hello and goodbye, and it also means love. … Go back to your homes with that aloha and show your love to your community.” Lions in Honolulu The top 10 nations represented in Honolulu were: Japan 4,154 United States 3,579 China 1,743 India 1,358 Nepal 993 Nigeria 678 Korea 632 Sri Lanka 519 Bangladesh 287 Multiple District 300 272 Taiwan Digital LION Learn more about the convention at lionmagazine.org. • Meet the 17 new international directors including seven from the United States and one from Canada. • Lions worldwide win awards at convention. See the Environmental Photo Contest winners and learn of the other award recipients. • Honolulu has been a wonderful host before for Lions. In 1976, Lions were wowed by humanitarian Dr. Jules Stein, former ambassador Clare Boothe Luce, actor Cary Grant and “Hawaii Five-O” star Jack Lord (July/August 1976 LION).
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