ENGLAND Talking Newspaper Goes Digital The Northumberland Gazette is the weekly newspaper residents of Alnwick and other nearby small towns in northern England turn to for the latest local news and sports. For more than 30 years, it also has been the news source for those with visual impairments, thanks to Lions. Alnwick Lions have faithfully read and recorded selected articles from the newspaper and diligently mailed tapes to 30 or so readers. Now they’ve moved into the digital age. A £3,000 (US$4,000) grant from the Newcastle Building Society, a financial institution, has paid for digital recording equipment. The Lions now mail the articles on a memory stick. The digital upgrade may enable the club to produce more editions of the talking newspaper and to send it out to more people, says Lion Tom Deedigan. Extra Digital Content To enrich the lives of those who are blind, Houston Lions do radio broadcasts of newspapers and magazines. Read the story from the April 2010 LION. JAPAN Jump Street Takahashi Civic Gymnasium sits on an unassuming street in Takahashi City, but one day annually since 1990 the place is really hopping. Takahashi Lions sponsor a jump rope competition for grade school students. Last year more than 400 students competed in team and individual events. The competitions for the teams typically end relatively swiftly because of the difficulty of jumping together. But matches for individuals often last more than 20 minutes. That leaves the children out of breath and “many adults holding their breath waiting for the winner,” according to the Japanese LION. INDIA Camps for Burn Victims Change Lives More than 1 million people in India are burned each year. Many of them are women or children burned in accidents in the kitchen, where cooking often is done on kerosene oil stoves. For eight years, in September, the Khamgaon Silvercity Lions Club has organized a plastic surgery camp for burn victims. Nearly 300 surgeries have been done. Two renowned plastic surgeons, Doctors Anil Tibrewala and Shankar Shrinivasan of Mumbai, donate their services. A hospital and pharmacy association also support the three-day event. Lions handle the logistics including publicizing the event, coordinating the appointments of patients and arranging the travel, housing and meals for medical personnel. Some patients come as far as 300 miles for surgery, and some have as many as five surgeries, says Prakash Mundhada, charter president. POLAND Freedom Runners Meet Adventure in the Heartland By plane, train and automobile, Lions descended on Chicago for the Centennial celebration last summer. But four Lions from Poland ran to town—625 miles through America’s heartland to cross the finish line at convention. The longest and fifth annual Freedom Charity Run began at Helen Keller’s birthplace in Tuscumbia, Alabama, and ended 11 days later at Lions’ International Headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois. Their run through Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and into Illinois connected Lions’ past with Lions’ future, says charity run founder and Past District Governor Mariusz Szeib of Poznan. It also raised more than $5,000 to help schools for Syrian children living in the Arslan refugee camp in Lebanon. Support started at home and spread. Szeib’s neighbor came with horse ointment— the best thing for sore joints. From Sweden came the gift of new running clothes. Hats were embroidered. A sports psychologist offered advice on running 600 miles in the heat. Excited American Lions planned for the runners’ arrival, and runners mapped their route from the deep South to the Windy City. “We Run, We Serve” is the motto they chanted as they relayed two-by-two across the country. For Szeib, Past District Governor Daniel Wcislo and Lions Jacek Trebecki and Mateusz Pietrulinski, 11 days on the run inspired freedom, promoted spirit and adventure, but unfortunately also included “some adventures that were not that nice,” says Szeib. Temps approached the 90s as they kicked off. Then came tropical storm Cindy, chasing them with high winds and buckets of rain. Passing cars slapped the runners with walls of water. And in one town, when a runner stopped for a traffic light, men jumped from a car and pulled a knife on him, demanding money. The runner had nothing to give but a charity T-shirt, so they left him alone. But in all, the heartland lived up to its name. Welcoming Lions invited them into their homes and meetings, fed them dinner and donated to the cause. At an Indiana club meeting, Lions sang both the Polish and American anthems. Szeib marveled over endless cornfields, “millions of acres of beautifully trimmed lawns” and American hospitality. He and Wcislo have made the annual run since 2013, each year in a different place and for a different cause. They have raised money for German children whose town flooded, for Ukrainian orphans, to help Lithuanian children with cancer and for earthquake victims in Japan and Nepal. In Japan in 2016 they raised funds to build a hostel for children in Nepal who walk an hour to school. Szeib has run marathons in all seven continents, he says. Now he prepares for Freedom Charity Run 2018 when they will run from Poland through Czech Republic and Germany, ending in France, and he continues to seek donations for the children from Syria. AUSTRALIA Lions Remember Club’s Backbone Adrian Geard was larger than life. He owned a large collection of wigs and outlandish costumes, and he had a knack for writing comedy skits. So at his club’s annual Fish Feast fundraiser there was Geard, 66, bringing down the house with the wacky skits he wrote and performed in. Westbury Lions no doubt will remember Geard each year at the fundraiser and also when it awards its annual nursing scholarship. He had helped set up the scholarship a decade ago, and now it’s been renamed in his honor. A Lion since 1994, he died in June in a fall at a home in Ireland while visiting one of his three daughters. “He really was one in a million, and our club will never be the same without him,” says Secretary Phil Steers. In his rural town of 1,500, Geard was a steady volunteer, equally at ease cleaning toilets at the Tasmanian cattleman’s gathering or commandeering the mike to call events at the Westbury Agricultural Show. “His enthusiasm knew no bounds,” says Steers. “You’d find him cooking sausages in the Lions’ van, organizing judges and students for the Youth of the Year event or telling a joke at a dinner meeting.”
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