Lions in Nevada and Alabama united to give a new walkway to Helen Keller’s childhood home, Ivy Green, now a museum in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Called the Knights of the Blind Walk, Lions continue selling bricks to create a paved memorial honoring the strong bond that Lions and Keller shared. Recent additions to the grounds funded by Lions also include a 1,600-pound concrete lion statue and a television with a DVD player that plays a video for visitors about Lions, who previously created a garden honoring Keller at Ivy Green. The brick project began after Dick Grilz, a West Charleston, Nevada, Lion visited Ivy Green and urged District 46 Lions in Nevada to donate funds to make improvements. Tuscumbia Lion Johnny Tuten worked with District 34 Lions to sell the engraved, personalized bricks at $100 each. Nevada Lions sold more than 150 bricks to individuals and 25 personalized with the names of Lions clubs. More than $55,000 has been raised and fundraising continues. “Ivy Green is so well-known internationally to Lions that many of them have already contributed something—the gardens feature a gate from New Zealand Lions, a lantern from Japanese Lions, a weather vane from English Lions and even some curling stones are on display from Lions in Scotland.” For information, contact Tuten (djtuten231@bellsouth.- net or 256-383-4552). Lion Ron Johnson of Leland, Illinois, believes strongly in the power of advertising. His club of 30 members in a small northern Illinois community makes about $70,000 from a single auction of machinery—much of it farm equipment—and advertising is essential to getting the word out. “We’re not bashful about spending on advertising,” he says. “Holy smokes—does it ever pay off!” Leland Lions advertise the sale in the preceding months throughout the Midwest, and consider the $8,000 to $10,000 investment critical to the auction’s massive success. Gross sales topped $2 million last year. Lions have sponsored the massive consignment auction for 25 years. In 2009, there were more than two miles of machinery and 2,100 registered buyers. Everything from antique farm machinery to lawnmowers, combines, trucks, trailers and tractors is available. There have even been portable toilets mixed into the massive array of consigned equipment as it’s sold off to the crowd of hundreds looking for mechanical bargains. Leland Lions distribute flyers telling how the funds are distributed locally. “We really mess things up in the village for a few weeks, so it’s important that we keep our residents informed and hopefully happy, ” he points out. The ‘Greatest Generation’ Rewinds USO Memories. The USO began entertaining soldiers overseas in 1942. For a group of senior citizens in Vancouver, Washington, a USOstyle show sponsored by Columbia Crest Lions brought back a flood of memories of some tough and dangerous yet aweinspiring times. Residents of Fairway Village, a retirement community, had been producing the USO-style show for a decade when two years ago, Lion Mary Van Sandt suggested that Lions sponsor an additional performance. Held the weekend before Veterans Day at the Washington State School for the Blind, the two-hour show raised more than $3,000 for the Clark County Sight and Hearing Foundation and other community groups. Many Lions live at the retirement village and welcomed the chance to perform in a fundraiser. Van Sandt says it takes nine months to research and write the script, but they didn’t have to look far for performers. Two Past District 19 G Governors, Lyle Williams and Terry Robertson, took to the stage. Wiliams played Jimmy Durante and Robertson played Bob Hope. Both portrayed two of the Andrews Sisters as well, although the show’s “sisters” were indeed more like brothers. Lions were hoping for laughs, and that’s what they got. Van Sandt says they started preparing for this year’s show nearly as soon as the curtains closed for the event in 2009.
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