Hit Broadway Play Has Lions’ Angle The Broadway musical “Come From Away” tells the true story of a tiny town in Canada that abruptly hosted 7,000 stranded airline passengers in the week following Sept. 11. It’s been a big hit with critics and audiences−and Lions in Gander, Newfoundland, who set aside their clubhouse for more than 100 of the passengers. “It’s fascinating. You can’t take your eyes off of it,” says Lion Jack Sturge, who has not been to New York to see the play but has seen clips of it on TV. In 2001, Sturge had been fixing the steps of a homeowner when she frantically invited him into her house to watch the unfolding tragedy. “I saw the second plane hit the tower,” he recalls. Gander Lions and nearby Lions sought to ease the discomfort of their sudden guests. Sturge drove to Walmart and filled his truck multiple times with mattresses, sleeping bags, clothes, toiletries and other necessities. The club had just bought pizza and chicken for a party celebrating its fundraising success at Gander Day. Instead, the food went to the passengers. During the week the club cooked for their guests in the 40-foot by 80-foot clubhouse and allowed them to use the phones to call loved ones. Understandably, the newcomers, most of them Americans but from 10 nations, were a bit disoriented. “I heard one guy say, ‘I’m calling from Gander, Spain,’” says Sturge. Many of the stranded passengers sent the Lions cards and thank-you letters after they returned home. Sturge still has a teddy bear holding an American flag that was sent to him. The play was nominated for seven Tony Awards this year and won for Best Direction of a Musical. The play artfully weaves together moments of high tension with comic relief. As the town feverishly prepares for the arrival of the passengers, one character protests: “For the love of God, stop bringing toilet paper to the Lions Club!” CHANCE ENCOUNTER REVEALS A CIRCLE OF HEALING Shuffling down a hospital hallway with a walker after surgery, Bill French, 86, joked with his physical therapist that “maybe I need one of those Leader dogs like the Lions support.” That struck home with Robin Catbagan, 34, the therapist. Turns out Lions had paid for her first two years of college. French’s club had done that for her. And French even had signed the congratulatory letter to Catbagan−which she still had. “We gave scholarships for 34 or 35 years. We don’t know where they end up. But this one we did,” says French, a member of the Orange Park Lions Club in Florida since 1978. “She was great [as a therapist]. She knew what she was doing.” Catbagan received her associate’s degree from St. John’s River State College before earning her doctorate in physical therapy at the University of North Florida. The two met at Orange Park Medical Center after French’s gall bladder surgery. LIONS MEET DOWN UNDER An old gold rush city, Ballarat, Australia, hosted in early September the annual gathering of Lions from that part of the world. Lions heard from Lions’ officers and engaged in cooperative service projects at the ANZI Forum for Lions of Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and the Islands of South Pacific. International President Naresh Aggarwal of India, who visited Pakistan before the forum, says he was “deeply touched” by Lions’ new hospital in Lahore, a special needs school in Sialkot and a hostel for the blind and deaf in Karachi. He also was impressed that in Australia 450,000 eyeglasses are donated to Lions for needy children in Africa. Other forums this Lions year already held were USA/Canada Sept. 21-23 in Portland, Oregon, and Europa Sept. 28-Oct. 1 in Montreux, Switzerland. OSEAL (Orient and Southeast Asia) is Nov. 17-20 in Tainan/Kaohsiung, Multiple District 300 Taiwan, ISAAME (India, South Asia, Africa and the Middle East) is Dec. 16-19 in Kolkata, India, and FOLAC (South America, Central America, Mexico and the Islands of the Caribbean Sea) is Jan. 17-20, 2018, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. 1917 Ford Drives Success of Show In Lions’ centennial year, Rushville Lions in upstate New York found an apt attraction for its summer car show: a 1917 Ford Model TT truck. The vintage truck belongs to Paul Curtis, 72, a club member since 1970. The vehicle is not just any 1917 Ford truck: it was showcased in front of Ford’s headquarters for the car company’s centennial in 2003. Ford noticed the photo Curtis had posted on a website and invited him to haul it to Dearborn, Michigan. The car’s appearance at the show during the club’s annual Community Days drew many admirers. “It gets a lot of oohs and aahs most places it goes. It’s in real nice condition,” says Curtis, a retired high school math teacher. He received the car after his father-in-law, who had partly restored it, died in 1999, and the father-in-law had spotted it in a friend’s shed, where it had sat for nearly 40 years. BLIND FOOTBALL PLAYER INSPIRES FANS USC long snapper Jake Olson thrilled football fans nationwide after he snapped an extra point against Western Michigan in September. Olson has been blind since the age of 12. In high school, he was a long snapper for two years at one of the most competitive leagues in California. A huge USC fan growing up, Olson told his parents he wanted to see the Trojans play one last time before his eyes had to be removed. Head Coach Pete Carroll invited him to the game and made him an honorary member of the football team. Predictably, Lions have helped Olson. Shortly after retinoblastoma took his vision, he was a guest of honor at a meeting of the Huntington Beach Host Lions Club. Lions gave him a Braille writer, made possible by a $50,000 bequest to the club from a member to help the visually impaired in Orange County. OVERHEARD “We’re flipping to make a difference, and it’s a big flippin’ deal.” —JASON GLOE of the Lubbock Lions Club in Texas on his club’s mammoth pancake breakfast, which typically serves 18,000 people, on KFYO radio. “The Lions club is a working club, not a social club. We work very hard, but we enjoy it.” —ELDRED HOLLE of the Monett Lions in Missouri. From the Monett Times. “It was in the Lions club that I really started learning what Rappahannock County is all about. It was there I started acquiring wonderful new friends, some of whom were old-timers with deep roots in the community. … Here is some advice for newcomers. If you want to know your neighbors, join a local organization. Become a volunteer.” —MIKE MAHONEY the Rappahannock Lions in Virginia. From the Rappahannock News. BY THE NUMBERS 1,725 Pounds of prescription drugs deposited in a drop box at the Pullman Police Department in Washington. Pullman Lions recently donated $500 for a new box with anti-tamper security. 100 Shifts required to staff the five beer booths of Norwalk Lions in Ohio at the four days of drag races at Summit Motorsports Park. Milan, Clyde and North Fairfield Lions also helped. 33,720 Pounds of scrap metal, worth $2,100, collected in the annual Scrap Metal Drive of the Penn-Elm Area Lions in Pennsylvania. 8 Minutes needed for the first-place canoe to complete the 200-foot course of the blindfold regatta held by Panama City Lions in Florida. 225 Kayaks and canoes plying the waters of Staffordville Lake for the annual Moonlight Paddle of Stafford Lions in Connecticut. 100 Minutes of play after which the male and female tennis players with the most number of wins received trophies in the doubles tournament held by Westborough Lions in Massachusetts. Players switched partners after each of the four rounds. 48 YEARS AGO IN THE LION NOVEMBER 1969 New Hope was a struggling small town in Alabama. It didn’t have a bank, a telephone system, a police or fire department. But it did have a strong Lions club, which was able to bring into being those four entities. It wasn’t easy. When the plans to create a phone system faltered, Lion Bob Moon roared prophetically, “We will have telephones!” Lions opened the first account in the new bank, formerly a feed store (photo). Extra Digital Content Read about the remarkable success of this Alabama club.
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