MOST LIONS KNOW THAT HELEN KELLER GAVE LIONS THEIR PRIMARY MISSION WHEN SHE URGED THEM TO BE KNIGHTS OF THE BLIND AT THEIR CONVENTION IN 1925. But Lions did not need much persuading. Many of the 900 clubs already were helping the blind, and some of this service was extraordinarily generous. In 1924, Lions in New York gave radios, an expensive technology then, to every blind child in the state, and Ohio Lions supported a braille magazine for blind children. That same year Lions’ headquarters established two service committees: one for handicapped children and one for the blind. The latter was steered by Judge Hubert Utterback of Des Moines, Iowa, who was blind. Lions decided to provide job training and education. “It is easier to give them money. That’s why most people do it,” wrote Lion A. C. Allen in an essay in 1924 in the LION headlined “How Lions May Serve Blind People.” “Why not encourage them in their independence? … Act on the belief that they can do some things as well as anyone can.” Keller’s speech indeed galvanized Lions. But something innate about Lions predisposed them to reach out to the most vulnerable and to empower them. 1. Actress Erin O’Brien, the queen of the North Hollywood Lions White Cane Drive in California in 1959, buys the first cane from Lions Carl Auer (center) and Jack McGuire. 2. Blind twin girls enjoy a day at Santa’s Village, an amusement park near Chicago, in 1959. With the girls are Ed Anderson (left) of the Chicago Lake View Lions and Clifford Thiel of the Elgin Lions. 3. Miss Florida, Annette Baker, promotes the Florida Lions’ annual campaign for the blind in 1960. 4. Blind youth enjoy the circus at Medinah Temple in Chicago in 1962, thanks to Lions clubs in Illinois. 5. William Rowland of Bay Village, Ohio, uses “bed specs,” enabling him to read or watch television without raising his head, at Lakewood Hospital while a nurse and Jack Dietz, president of the Lakewood Lions Club, look on in 1964. 1. Euclid Lions in Ohio donate a braille duplicating machine to the Roosevelt School for the Blind in 1965. 2. Dr. Gerald Barren tests for glaucoma at a clinic sponsored by San Fernando Lions in California in 1965. Looking on is Lion Frank Nance. 3. Gene Parrish and Tom Reed of the St. Petersburg Lions Club in Florida ready truckloads of eyeglasses for shipment to Lions in Santiago, Chile, in 1966. 4. Keppel Brierly (right), president of the Denver Lions Club Foundation, presents an audio tape duplicator to Mrs. James Kurtz, chairman of the Denver unit of Recording for the Blind, in 1967. The machine was used to make tape recordings of books for the blind. 5. Blind students Daniel Jablonski, 17, and Annette Nowakowski, 14, try out a typewriter and listen to their voices on tape recorder under the guidance of John Seibt, president of the Chicago Shoreline Lions Club, in 1968. 6. Linda Adams, 7, of Peetz, Colorado, explores Santa’s face with her fingers in 1971. Linda is a student at the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind, and Santa is known to friends and family as Emery Bausch of the Nob Hill Lions Club in Colorado Springs. 7. Lions James Davison and Glenn Strunk of the Howard Lions Club show a little boy where he will be flown to in England for an eye operation in 1971. 8. Julie McCrara of Bridgeview is one of 5,000 blind and disabled children treated to a day at the circus by Illinois Lions in 1981. 9. River Grove Lions in Illinois delivered the Easter Bunny to the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind in 1986. The Easter Bunny plays with Eddie Bonafe, 7.
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