Past International Director Mick Barrus (1985-87) of Cody, Wyoming, vividly recalls the first time he met Kate Loveless. “Eighteen years ago found me addressing the American Federation for the Blind Conference in Riverton. A co-presenter was Kate Loveless, an 11- year-old blind girl. She was born without sight due to cancerous tumors on both retinas. Loveless’ message of how she deals with her blindness had the audience (including me) enthralled, and at certain junctures, in tears. She literally had the audience in the palm of her hand.” The strong bond forged that day continues between Loveless and her family and Barrus. Lions have been central to Loveless’ life ever since. Q&A: Kate Loveless LION Magazine: Are you surprised at how helpful Lions were to you? Kate Loveless:After meeting Mick Barrus, I began giving presentations to Lions clubs across the city, telling my story about how I lost my sight and have been able to overcome it. I also showed them some of the less fancy things I used, such as a Brailler. The Lions helped me buy a computer, which I was able to use as I went through college. I also wouldn’t be where I am right now if it weren’t for them. [She previously worked as an associate producer for a television station after earning a B.A. in Mass Communications from Brigham Young University, but lost her position when the station was sold.] Early this year I learned of the Lions World School for the Blind in Little Rock, Arkansas. One of the things they do is teach the blind to work for the IRS. After successful completion of training, we’re guaranteed a job. Tuition was paid by the state of Wyoming, but I’d have to come up with the living expenses. At over $6,000 for a five-month program, there was no way I’d be able to come up with the money on my own. I contacted Mick, and as he does, he made the miracle happen and the full amount was provided. [The money was later refunded to Lions because Kate was considered so advanced that she was placed in a position a month after starting classes.] The Lions never stop amazing me. Lions do serve and I could never say “thank you” enough for everything they’ve done for me. I will just work hard and serve in any way, I can, too. LM: You attended the Allen H. Stewart Lions Camp on Casper Mountain. How did this affect you? KL: Holy smokes! What an amazing experience! I love the camp. I started attending in the summer of 1994. I became an intern in 1997 and worked there through the summer of 2000. I made friends there who are still very much a part of my life. The staff was amazing. All they want is to help you so you can be more independent and successful, while making it all fun. I learned things that I use every day of my adult life. They taught me how to cook, clean, do laundry, tell money apart, shop and do banking. I also very much enjoyed the shop class. Not only did I use power tools to build things, but learned how to sheetrock/patch a hole in the wall and do basic plumbing. LM: How’s life now? KL: Now I love what I’m doing. Because of the Lions World School for the Blind, I’m now enjoying my new job at the IRS headquarters office in Ogden, Utah. For such a small state in population, the Wyoming Lions make big things happen for the visually impaired.
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