Historic Mountain Pass Not Passed Over by Lions JAPAN - The Yonezawa Kaido is an ancient hiking path that winds through 13 mountain passes and also is woven into Japanese history. Today cars and trucks rumble over it and carefully navigate its twists and turns. The natural beauty of the first mountain pass was spoiled by accumulated litter— until Lions took to the roadside. For the past 30 Aprils Kawanishi Lions have collected litter at the Suwa Pass, the first of the 13 passes. The town of Kawanishi is perched on one side of the mountain. People frequently dumped large appliances, and the club once had to contract a 4-ton truck to pack out all the garbage. The town of Iide rests on the other side of the mountain, and five years ago the presidents of the Iide and Kawanishi clubs happened to meet at a community forum. The result was that Iide Lions joined the cleanup project. Members of the two clubs meet at the pass before getting to work. At last year’s collection Lions not only picked up the typical beverage containers but also a mattress and video game controller. Lions have collected litter at the Suwa Pass for three decades. The 37-mile Yonezawa Kaido dates from the Edo Period, an era of stability in Japan that began in 1603. During the Boshin War of 1867, a civil war, skirmishes were fought along the trail. Today avid hikers ignore the nearby drone of traffic to take in the beauty of the mountains while traversing the ancient path. Lions have observed less litter each year: apparently people are less likely to toss trash out the window where there is relatively little litter. Still, the cleanups continue, and “it can be a genuinely terrifying endeavor to collect bottles and cans that have been tossed onto the steep slopes,” according to a story in the Japanese LION. “Risking life and limb is something these Lions are happy to do for the benefit of preserving a beautiful historic site.” Satirist Draws a Crowd POLAND - Sopot Polish Lions elicited laughter, auctioned several paintings and raised funds for its charitable causes when they hosted Andrew Poniedzielski, a popular satirist, poet and songwriter. Satirist Andrew Poniedzielski entertains the crowd. Lionism began in Poland in 1989. The country now has 1,057 Lions in 56 clubs. Sopot is a seaside resort town on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea in northern Poland with a population of nearly 40,000. Chartered in 1996, the Sopot Lions Club has 20 members. Gentle Horse Helps Riders with Challenges SWITZERLAND - A horse from Iceland named after a Czech soccer star is helping children and adults in Switzerland with emotional and physical challenges. The Chur Kora Lions Club in Switzerland raised funds for a therapy horse for the Auhof Chur Farm, dedicated to using horses to help people with autism, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injuries and behavioral disorders. The rhythm and repetition of a horse’s pelvis while moving, similar to how a person’s pelvis moves while walking, has a soothing effect on people with challenges. Bruno Ruegg, president of the Chur Kora Lions Club, stands aside Baros-Ljon with Lion Jeannette Xayaboun (right) and Brigitte Hürzeler of the Auhof Chur Farm. The 10-year-old horse bought by the club is named Baros-Ljon. “Ljon” is a common Icelandic name, and Milan Baroš is a Czech soccer icon. The horse was born at the exact moment Baroš scored an important goal. Baros-Ljon cost 11,000 francs (US$11,020). The club raised 6,000 francs through the sale of sausages, cakes and mulled wine at a Christmas market in Chur and kicked in the rest from its coffers. Twice a week, Baros-Ljon slowly and deliberately is ridden over the green pastures of the farm. “We were excited about Baros-Ljon from the get-go,” says Brigitte Hürzeler of the farm. City Comes Alive for the Blind HUNGARY - A gem of a city that dates from the Roman era, Sopron has more monuments and historical buildings than any other place in Hungary, aside from Budapest. Now the blind can better appreciate its grandeur thanks to an elaborate scale model created by Lions. The sturdy bronze model, 6 ½ feet long and 4 feet wide, features the city’s most significant buildings including the Fire Tower, the 17th-century symbol of the ancient city. Braille inscriptions explain the major sites. Located in a welltraveled area, the model quickly has become a popular attraction for the blind and tourists alike. The three-dimensional scale model of the city has become a popular destination in Sopron. Chartered in 1991, the Sopron Lions Club was one of Hungary’s first Lions clubs and was among the earlier civic groups established in the country after the fall of communism in 1989.
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