ENGLAND Sense of Humor, Not Athleticism, Needed Most If you are adept at running fast on slippery mats, tossing and catching wet sponges while standing on an overturned bucket or knocking over a fellow competitor clad in an inflatable costume, then “It’s a Knockout” is for you. Or maybe you just don’t mind looking silly while hundreds of others do likewise. Since 2007, Humberston North Sea Lions in England have hosted the popular “It’s a Knockout” competition. Dozens of teams engage in zany games that typically involve water, falling and outrageous costumes, provoking belly laughs from spectators. The event is inspired by a British comedy game show of the same name that first ran in 1966. The short-lived American version, titled “Almost Anything Goes,” aired on ABC in 1975. “The falls and spills are very funny,” says Lion Tim Donovan, a coordinator of Knockout. “It’s a great fundraiser. The teams and spectators have a great day together.” For the Lions’ event, teams of 10 secure sponsors before competing. The hilarity has generated some serious funds. To date, the event has raised 160,000 pounds (US$200,000). The funds mostly help youths. Beneficiaries include the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, a children’s hospice and a nurses’ group. ITALY Veteran Honored Lions-style Giovanni Cattapan knew his coworker had lost an arm and both feet while serving in the Italian army in World War II. When he learned more about his extraordinary survival, made possible by the kindness of strangers even though he was an enemy soldier, he wrote a 158-page biography of him a decade ago. Cattapan, 76, a member of the Gemona Celti Lions Club, will further honor Pietro Romano when the veteran turns 100 on Nov. 17. Cattapan will present him with the Lions centennial commemorative coin. Romano, a shepherd and woodcutter, served in the Alpino unit, skilled at mountain fighting. In 1943, the soldiers marched through a frigid snowstorm in Russia without proper winter clothing. A villager took pity on him and gave him a hat. Not long after Russian partisans captured Romano, who handed him over to Russian soldiers. His nightmare was about to begin. Angered at seeing dead comrades lying in the snow, a soldier aimed his rifle at Romano. He lifted his arms to protect himself and took the shots in the arm, then played dead alongside a second shot soldier, who was dead. The temperature dropped well below zero, but Romano maintained his ruse even as a soldier poked him to see if he were alive and then a large dog sniffed at him and barked repeatedly. Romano’s feet froze during the long night. After the soldiers moved on, two villagers loaded Romano on a truck and took care of him at a home. After he partly recovered, they told him the best route to take to avoid Russian soldiers. But he was eventually captured and sent to an internment camp, where an Italian doctor used a gardening tool to amputate infected fingers and toes. Russian medical personnel later amputated his infected arm. Romano says he will never forget the kind urgency in the voices of the villagers as he left their home: “Do not cry out! Go this way!” Cattapan, who can faintly remember seeing an Allied bombing raid near his boyhood home, says he wrote the book because “our sincere friendship” as well as his respect for Romano’s “longtime commitment to work and family.” WALES Remembering the Sacrifice of Veterans After two minutes of a solemn silence, the Lions club president and the town’s mayor laid wreaths at the memorial obelisk within the church cemetery. For Lions in Llandudno, a small town in Wales that overlooks the Irish Sea, remembering veterans has become an annual tradition. Before the wreath laying, Lions joined other residents inside the ancient church of St. Tudno for a service honoring local volunteers who fought in the South African (Boer) War between 1900 and 1902. Five years ago, Llandudno Lions refurbished the memorial obelisk outside the church. Gordon Woodyat, president of the Llandudno Lions Club, takes part in the Remembrance Sunday parade. Club members also march in the town’s parade on Remembrance Sunday, which honors the men and women who took part in the two world wars of the 20th century and later conflicts. The day is celebrated on the second Sunday in November. Honoring veterans is “what Lionism is all about,” a club member told the LION, British and Irish edition. “It’s a group coming together and doing something for the community.” Grateful for Lions’ repair of the obelisk, the town council made a donation to the club. In turn, the club fixed the roof of St. Tudno. GERMANY Art for Children’s Sake Avant-garde artist Ottmar Hörl caused a stir in Germany when he created 500 identical colored statues of Karl Marx and then garnered a lot of attention with another 500 statues of a beloved Kaiser from long ago. So Lions in the Ruhr Valley did the same with a local hero: they commissioned Hörl to produce 125 blue, purple and gray statues of Friedrich Harkort, known as the “Father of the Ruhr.” Lions sold the blue and red statues for 350 euros ($400) and the 50 blue ones, handsigned by the artist, went for 700 euros ($800). The 15,000 euros ($17,200) that Lions netted was donated to a nonprofit that assists children. Harkort, who lived from 1793 to 1880, was a pioneer industrialist who founded a seminal industrial workshop and developed railroads. He also was admired for treating his employees well and promoting education.
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