Parkinson’s Walk Held Vickie Smith, wife of Past International Director Bob Smith, says she expected about 100 people to turn out for the Parkinson’s walk she and others were planning. But more than 450 walkers joined Sacramento Embarcadero Lions in California for their first “Robert G. Smith Cancel Out Parkinson’s” walk, and the Lions are already stepping up to sponsor the walk again next April. When the club discovered that one of their members, Bob Smith, had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, they immediately felt compelled to help and started planning the event. Past District Governor Susanne Royce accepted the chairperson position, and Lions followed her lead. Lions from all over the state and Nevada as well as friends from across the country and many from Smith’s years in law enforcement came to walk, honoring the Smiths and supporting efforts to fight Parkinson’s disease. “It was an amazing day. I wish I could express what Bob was feeling,” says Vickie. “Seeing all those people and feeling the love of all those Lions. We serve. But we also serve each other. Suzanne put her heart and soul into this walk, and it took on a life of its own.” The 5K walk-a-thon at Rusch Park in Citrus Heights netted $25,000 for the Parkinson Association of Northern California plus enough money to support next year’s walk on April 7. Club members also arranged for entertainment and a health fair with the help of the Northern California Lions Sight Association. In addition to the NCLSA vision van, the Lions Project for Canine Companions for Independence participated, and a variety of senior service providers were on hand. Past International Director Robert G. Smith walks with longtime friends Sylvia and David Darnell. Photo by Tony Santos Past District Governor Carl Burson says the walk will have to be moved to a new location next spring as they anticipate 800 to 1,000 walkers to take part. “We anticipate a much larger turnout,” says Burson. “Bob is one of the most gracious men you’ll ever meet.” Smith, a 32-year veteran of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department and a 35-year Lion, served as international director from 2010 to 2012. “When Bob was first diagnosed we said, ‘Well, we are just not going to give up,’” says Vickie. “We got to the walk, and we saw all those faces. And Bob was smiling. Being with Lions is some of the best therapy he can have.” Creating a Greater Cat Habitat in New Mexico With Lions’ support, the cougars have more space and a place to relax in New Mexico’s Wildlife West Nature Park. Photo courtesy of Roger Holden Photography. Lions in Edgewood, New Mexico, are looking out for the other “big cats” around town. They are making sure the cougars have a good place to live in a family-oriented nature park that not only entertains but educates visitors about the state’s native animals, plants and habitat. Wildlife West Nature Park, a 122-acre nonprofit outside Albuquerque, is a combination zoo and wildlife refuge, home to a variety of animals that have suffered trauma and are unable to be released into the wild. The Edgewood Lions came forward when the park received two young cougars that had been left motherless in the wild, one of which had been caught in a trap and injured its foot. Space at the park was not large enough to keep both comfortably. The club donated more than $1,000 to help expand the cat habitat, enabling the young cougars—True and Zia—to have more room to roam as they grow. A new gate joins the two cat habitats. The Lions’ donation also allowed members of the New Mexico Youth Conservation Corps to build a cat tree, giving the cougars a place to relax and people watch. Wildlife West Nature Park works with volunteers providing educational programs, chuck wagon dinners and entertainment. 60 Years of Going Round and Around Modern-day social media has been good for encouraging traditional old-fashioned fun in Alabama, says Tim Carter, president of the Athens Lions, who host the Athens Kiddie Carnival every summer. The carnival has always been a popular event with the locals, but since word got out on social media, people have been traveling more than an hour from Tennessee and other parts of Alabama to enjoy the vintage rides. “It’s nothing to see four generations of family enjoying the night,” Carter says. The carnival is fast-moving fun for toddlers to 10-year-olds, but it’s also a spot for parents and grandparents to play “remember when.” Athens Lions hosted their first Kiddie Carnival in 1957, and 60 years later it’s in the same location, offering some of the same rides, now entertaining the grandchildren of some of the first kids to attend. Gates are open on Friday and Saturday nights from June through the first weekend in August. But the work of the Lions begins early in the spring when the rides are hauled from the storage shed, which is also the bingo hall during the carnival. And it ends when it’s all cleaned up and put away. The Lions own and operate all 10 rides including the small Ferris wheel, cars, rockets ships, carousel and big swings. But the “life blood” of the carnival is the small train that runs on its own tracks. Photos courtesy of Jeronimo Nisa/Decatur Daily. Some of the rides are so vintage that the club has had trouble getting parts for them. But, says Carter, “Any time there’s a discussion about replacing the rides, the public gets upset.” People also like the vintage prices—free admission and 50 cents a ride. Every night at the carnival requires at least 30 Lions to operate the rides safely, and 30 other volunteers take care of concession like snow cones and cotton candy, where there is sure to be a long line. The Leo club from Limestone County Career Technical Center helps, as well as the Athens Rotary Club, church groups and others. Hundreds of people will come to the park which is about the size of a football field, and on a good night, they may draw a crowd of 1,000 or more. I’m 70, and I’m there every night we’re open. We just enjoy seeing the kids have a good time, and we’re able to support a lot of good causes. And that makes everybody feel good,” says Carter. In a good summer without many rainouts, Kiddie Carnival can gross $60,000 for the Lions, according to Carter. That means a lot of support for many organizations including Alabama Lions Sight, Camp Seale Harris, Special Olympics, local charities and the police department. Lions Fight a Clubhouse Catastrophe Lions are accustomed to helping strangers in dire circumstances. But the Lions in Clinton, Indiana, have been fortunate to be helped by their own in tough times. Fire broke out in the kitchen of their clubhouse during a lightning storm about 30 minutes before a club meeting was to begin. With high winds and thunderstorms in the area, the fire spread rapidly throughout the structure. Lion Chris Strohm, the Clinton fire chief, was the first fireman on the scene. Lions Chris Laws, Tom Sims and Mike Curry, all firefighters, responded to the call. Club members say it was the swift action of these Lions that helped save their photo history, plaques, banners, club charter and vision screening equipment. Although they feel blessed to have saved some of the irreplaceable items, the building will have to be remodeled or completely rebuilt due to heavy smoke and water damage, says Lion Dean Strohm. Fellow Lion and farmer Tim Foltz is letting the club use one of his buildings for regular monthly meetings. And president Jerry Spurr is making his winery available for monthly board meetings. Strohm says the Clinton Lioness Club is working with other nonprofit groups planning a dinner dance with a silent auction to support the Lions as they rebuild.
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