<b>Bridge & BBQ a Great Combo</b> You wouldn’t expect to find authentic Kansas City barbeque in Lake Havasu City, but then you wouldn’t expect to find the London Bridge, either. And yet, both are there. The bridge came in 1971, brought to Arizona by developer Robert McCulloch. The barbeque came a few decades later, brought by the Daybreakers Lions Club of Lake Havasu City. Lions sponsored their first Kansas City Barbeque Societysanctioned contest in February in a park with the famed bridge serving as a scenic backdrop. Arizonans clearly aren’t afraid to tackle the new and unusual. “We’re a small group, some 16 members strong, and all of our members work on every project,” says Ann Roberts, District 21-A Governor for 2009-10 and a Daybreakers Lion. Before Lions knew it, she says, “The project took on a life of its own, becoming the largest such event in Arizona.” Called the “HAVA BBQ London Bridge Style,” the competition attracted as many as 20,000 visitors who sampled and watched as 72 grilling teams from 15 states vied for the $10,000 grand prize. A total of 72 certified judges, one for each team, came from 14 states to critique — and all had to be sanctioned by the KCBS. Judges attend classes where they learn to focus on elements such as taste, tenderness and appearance of individual food entries. When Lions sought the right to sponsor the competition, Roberts says attracting enough people wasn’t a concern. “Our city’s population nearly doubles as the winter visitors arrive,” she points out. The desire to host an official spot on the tour was born after Lions held a smaller barbeque competition on their own in 2009 that was so well received the public clamored for more. Lions decided that barbeque may just have been their fundraising destiny. “Every club is looking for an opportunity to develop a new Fundraiser.” They were fearless in their pursuit of hosting the KCBS event. Working with the organization’s representatives, “We became intimately familiar with the competitive barbeque world,” Roberts admits. It didn’t take much convincing for the barbeque society to grant the club a coveted spot on the 2010 BBQ Tour, however. “Our weather here in Lake Havasu City, usually in the 70s in late February, was one of the KCBS’s primary considerations,” she explains. With 10,000 members, the organization is the largest devoted to barbeque and grilling enthusiasts and conducts more than 300 annual competitions. Lions received the first spot west of the Mississippi on the tour. Lions encouraged visitors who attended on Friday and Saturday to observe and interact with the grilling teams. For those who didn’t fancy barbeque, vendors sold other food items. The main draw, of course, was barbeque, slathered in a variety of homemade, secret sauce or simply grilled to perfection and served falling off the bone. There were several categories for judging, including salsa and “Anything Butt.” Door prizes were also awarded for Best Team Booth and a People’s Choice Award. Lions sold “BBQ Bucks,” tokens that allowed visitors to buy meals, food samples and drinks. A portion of each BBQ Buck went to local organizations. More than $15,000 was raised. “We pride ourselves on giving back to the community, and budget more than 75 percent of our financial aid to local charities,” Roberts says. Lake Havasu City Lions, like many clubs, focus on activities that benefit local and global vision initiatives. They also donate to other projects including a food bank, college scholarships, Havasu for Youth/Project Graduation, Haven House and the Lions Dog Park. <b>Chili Sale Promotes Service and Saves Lives</b> Lions in McKinney, Texas, are locally famous for their 57-year chili supper tradition, the club’s single biggest fundraiser. This year more than 400 diners helped Lions earn $7,000. Profits from the much anticipated twohour sale support the Texas Lions Camp in Kerrville, provide glasses and hearing aids to students, make possible donations to the local food pantry and Salvation Army and supply fans to help McKinney’s residents in need stay safe and comfortable during the state’s extreme heat. One donation given by Lions didn’t just change a life—it saved one. Five years ago, Lions approached local high school officials and asked how the club could help. A defibrillator was needed for sports events, so Lions gave the school $2,000 to purchase one. A short time later during a soccer game, a player collapsed and the defibrillator was successfully used. Jack Crampton, a 45-year member, explains the long history between the club and high school. “It was 1924 and the school was in desperate need of uniforms for their team,” he recounts. “Once we heard about the need, our club was front and center with the offer to not only purchase the uniforms but some miscellaneous equipment as well. It was just after that the school asked permission to name their team ‘The Lions’ in honor and appreciation for what the club had done.” Last year, Lions spent more than $13,000 on eye exams and glasses for children and adults and gave $10,000 in donations. High school student Seaver Bowen, who has a hearing disorder, had endured an earlier, unsuccessful surgery. Bowen’s father recently returned from a tour of duty in the Middle East and discovered that his insurance did not cover hearing aids. The club partnered with a local audiologist to cover the costs of testing, ear molds, batteries and other aids. Bowen’s hearing improved considerably and he’s now doing better in school.
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