A NEW ERA BEGINS FOR LIONS NAMASTE! Progress can come with a steep price. As people worldwide enjoy fast food and work non-strenuous jobs, diabetes has become a global crisis. My own nation, hardly wealthy, is a case in point. India is known as “the diabetes capital of the world” with a staggering 50 million people suffering from type 2 diabetes. The statistics in the United States are bleak as well. In New York, a city with access to fruits and vegetables, an estimated 800,000 adults— more than one in every eight—now have diabetes. Nationwide, the picture is even grimmer. One in three children born in the United States is expected to have diabetes in their lifetimes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The toll on society will be enormous. Diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney damage and nerve damage. It also causes blindness. Lions Clubs International (LCI) will not sit on the sidelines as the disease mounts. We will be in the thick of efforts to prevent and treat the disease. At our 100th International Convention in July in Chicago we formally announced our new commitment to curtailing diabetes. Echoing Helen Keller’s appeal to Lions in 1925 at their convention to become Knights of the Blind, Keller Johnson-Thompson, Keller’s great grand-niece, urged Lions and Leos to take on this new challenge. “Will you not constitute yourselves to continue to be Knights of the Blind in this crusade against darkness through your work with diabetes?” she asked tens of thousands of Lions near the end of the final plenary session. The focus on diabetes is part of LCI’s new global service framework. We are directing our energies and resources toward vision, hunger, the environment, pediatric cancer and diabetes. We’re building on our traditions but also giving Lions new ways to serve. Lions can continue to support their local causes, of course, but we ask clubs and districts to contribute to the five areas of focus. Johnson-Thompson dramatically rung the bell that was struck at the 1925 international convention to ring in Lions’ work with the blind and visually impaired. For 100 years Lions have always answered the bell. I am fully confident that we will rise to the challenge and fight back against the modern scourge of diabetes. DR. NARESH AGGARWAL LIONS CLUBS INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT
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