Cliff Terry 0000-00-00 00:00:00
One Sunday evening, on a Las Vegas-based talk show called Lion’s Pride Radio, a representative from a non-profit organization named Spirit Therapies was explaining the purpose of her group. The therapeutic horseback riding center enabled children and adults with physical and mental disabilities to interact with trained “therapy horses” and certified instructors. “The most amazing thing is when the horses are walking, their movements are the exact movements as when a person’s walking,” recalls Rex Doty, a Lion who listens to the show and has been a guest on it. “They’ve never been able to duplicate a machine that would do that. So with these people riding on the horses, it actually exercises the muscles they would use if they were walking. And some of them even start walking again. Things like this are featured on the radio program.” It’s those kinds of eye-opening and moving moments that draw listeners to Lion’s Pride Radio. It airs for one hour at 7 p.m. on KLAV 1230 AM. Its two components reflect Lions and their mission. The show relates news about the Lions clubs in District 46, which includes the entire state of Nevada. It also is devoted to guests from the plethora of non-profits in the Las Vegas area. “A couple of weeks ago we talked on the air to a spokesperson from WRRP, which stands for Wellness Redemption Rehabilitation Program,” says Ivy Unieski, a co-host of the show. “What they do is help ex-felons reincorporate back into society and get them jobs and proper counseling and help with their education. A man who phoned in had been offered a job but didn’t have money to buy tools. When we were talking with him, someone actually called in and offered to supply him with tools. Well, he got the job.” Co-hosts John Williams and Unieski are members of the Las Vegas Breakfasters Club. “Despite the name, we meet in the evening,” Williams says with a laugh. “I believe it’s the oldest club around. Now, they used to meet for breakfast.” Lion’s Pride Radio started in 2007. “No club knew what the other ones were doing,” remembers Williams, “so I just came up with the idea of having a radio show about Lions. At first, I paid for it myself. Then we realized you can only talk about Lions so much. We started to have guests from non-profits, and one was the CEO of a food bank. Our next major guest was the Make a Wish Foundation. Then we thought, hey, this is a good way Lions can serve the community.” More than 90 organizations have been featured on the show. They’ve included the Nevada Zoological Foundation, Ronald McDonald House, Street Teens, Catholic Charities, The Colors of Lupus, Disabled American Veterans, Down Syndrome Society, Volunteer Firemen, Blind Center of Nevada and the Heaven Can Wait Animal Society. “The show has had a huge impact,” says Ray Pezonella, a member of the Reno Arch Lions Club and past district 46 Governor. “They do a great job. They bring in people who want to get their information out. And it’s great for the Lions because they talk about what we do. It could increase our membership, because people will see we’re doing good things in the community. They hear these stories on the program and say to themselves, ‘I want to be a part of that.’ ” KLAV is the oldest talk radio station in Las Vegas. Its signal reaches all of Clark County–50 square miles or so. Many listen through the Web (www.klav1230am.com). “We have a lot of listeners from District 50 in Hawaii,” says Williams. “Why, I don’t know. They’re our most dedicated listeners. Eventually, we’d like to hook up with Lion districts in other states. Right now we get a nice grant from Lions Clubs International Foundation. They actually pay for the show. I’m not paying any more, thank God!” Williams grew up in San Diego (few residents are native Las Vegans, he says with a laugh). He has been involved in volunteer work through the years and now sells classic cars. He had some prior radio experience, but Unieski was a neophyte. Says Unieski, “John’s my significant other, and one day he said, ‘We’re going to do a radio show to connect all the Lions in Nevada.’ I said, ‘Yeah, OK, whatever.’ You know, I was cooking dinner. Three weeks later, we’re sitting in front of microphones, and I’m like kicking and screaming, going, ‘I can’t do this!’ ” “People call into the show with questions and requests for the non-profits,” adds the Hawaiian-bred Unieski, a hydrocolon therapist. “We’re all helping each other with things they need like volunteers or support for events. We’re a clearing center. It’s been incredibly rewarding. Awesome. The one thing I find, though, is that with all these groups, their purpose is so heart-touching, that you tend to want to do something for everybody who comes on! One week we’re helping with the zoo, the next week we’re stuffing backpacks for at-risk children to take to school. You know, whatever the case might be.” The first segment of the show is devoted to Roy Madison giving brief Lions news. There also are guests such as Jimmy Ross and Al Brandel, past international presidents. “I report on fundraisers, special meetings, an eye screening, whatever,” says Madison, a retired police officer from Rhode Island, a member of the Las Vegas Breakfasters Club and the district’s Leo adviser. “The program is unusual. It gives these organizations a voice. You hear about the big ones, but there are little ones, too.” Madison says the program showcases positive stories. “A youth group sponsored by the Masons called Order of Pythagorans walked into the studio. They’re young, black kids—I’m black myself—and they all came up and introduced themselves,” he recalls. “They were neatly dressed, had their hats on straight, unlike a lot of kids today. They talked about their plans, what they’re doing to further Their education. This is the training they’re getting from that organization. It was just great. “Then there was a group, Life Long Dreams, that helps kids who are mentally challenged. They have acting classes, singing, whatever. The Lions had a spaghetti dinner for them, and one mother told us her boy wanted to play the trumpet in a school band, but the director brushed him off. Well, this kid learned to play the trumpet from Life Long Dreams and now plays in the band. “There are so many things out there that are going on that you don’t know about, and the radio show brings all these groups into one pot. Lions can support them, either financially or by volunteering. Ronald McDonald House has an annual food drive and seven or eight clubs pitch in.” Doty manages The Happy Factory in Las Vegas, which makes small wooden toys and gives them away to needy children. An Illinois native who retired early from Caterpillar Tractor, he moved to Las Vegas in 1980. The radio show helped him get the word out about his non-profit. “My neighbor saw me making toys in my garage and invited me to join the Summerlin Lions Club here in town,” he recalls. “In distributing the toys, I tried to get as much exposure as possible so people would know about The Happy Factory. After three different non-profit organizations here told me about Lion’s Pride Radio, I thought, ‘Maybe I ought to give John and Ivy a call.’ “I love what they do, including connecting with all the Lions clubs. They also hooked me up with probably 30 other non-profits that I would never have known about. You know, these organizations used to kind of hide in their own corners, and now we’re all working together. Otherwise, you’d never hear of them. It’s been a beautiful thing.” Adds Williams, “The Lions’ motto is ‘We Serve’ and, basically, that’s what we do. The thing is, we’re just plugging away. We’re not professionals. Everyone thinks it’s hard. But it’s very simple to do. And we’re just having a ball.”
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