Somers Leos Take Plunge For Special Olympics Twenty teams were brave enough to throw themselves into the freezing cold water at Glen Island Park in New York for the Special Olympics Westchester Polar Plunge Fund. But if the plunge wasn’t shocking and fun enough, the win was. The Somers Leos, with 71 team members, took top prize for most funds raised by a public school, generating more than US$27,000 for Special Olympics. And for his work on the Polar Plunge, team captain and Leo club president Brandon LaSpina was nationally recognized by Disney/ABC Television Group and Youth Service America with their “Be Inspired Grant” for kids and families making a positive impact in their communities. Youth Service America’s Youth Partnership Manager Sara Pope said this about the project: “We received an overwhelming number of wonderful applications, and your project stood out to us as one of the best in the country.” Special Olympics New York has more than 68,000 athletes training and competing year-round in 22 Olympics-style sports. It costs $400 to support training and competition for one athlete for one sports season, but athletes and their families are never charged to participate. Somers Leos’ achievement means they were able to sponsor 62 athletes for an entire season. BOOK IDENTIFIES TRUE ORIGIN OF SERVICE— THE HEART Past International Director Robert Littlefield’s book “Stories from the Heart,” will be released this month. Littlefield wrote the book to help readers “gain a better understanding of what service to others has meant to those who have chosen to heed the call to give of themselves in order to make life better for those in need.” “Stories from the Heart” will be available through Club Supplies for US$23.99. From the sale of each book, US$13.85 will go directly to Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF). GEORGIA WELCOMES NEW ATLANTA NAMASTE CLUB A newly chartered Lions club in Georgia has chosen “Atlanta Namaste” as its chapter name. Lion Ramesh Gude, a native of Amaravathi in the southeastern part of India, is president of the new Indian-American club. Gude says he is proud to accept the club charter during the 100th anniversary year of Lions and particularly because Lions Clubs International President Dr. Naresh Aggarwal of Batala, Punjab, India is the first Indian to serve as international president. Members of the new Namaste Club look forward to working for both the Indian and larger communities. Mark Bradley, governor in District 18 I, covering 34 counties across northeast Georgia, helped to launch the newest club. He expects the new Indian club to support Lion global causes, but also some that may be unique to the large local Indian community with an estimated population of 20,000 in the areas of North Fulton, Forsyth and Gwinnett, Georgia. Parade of Bright Blooms Welcomes New Year On January 1, 2018, International President Naresh Aggarwal and wife, Navita, represented Lions as principal riders on the Lions Clubs International float in the 129th Rose Parade® in Pasadena, California. The float, themed “Preserving Our Environment,” was designed to depict Leos planting trees and overseeing the preservation of a historical landmark to showcase the service themes Engaging Our Youth and Protecting Our Environment. Covered with more than 100,000 roses and featuring a working water wheel, the Lions Clubs International float was one of 39 entries that made its way along the 5.5-mile route down Colorado Boulevard. With the extensive media coverage of this popular event, it’s estimated the parade is viewed by approximately 400 million people in 85 countries around the world. SERVING THE COMMUNITY STARTS YOUNG AT ZIA MIDDLE SCHOOL Students at Zia Middle School in Las Cruces have formed the first middle-school level Leo club in New Mexico. And they’ve been busy—helping to host a haunted house, sorting eyeglasses, and now creating boxes for the Jared Box Project, which provides plastic storage boxes of children’s toys, games, and activities to children who are hospitalized. Samara Nuñez is an eighth-grader at Zia and co-president of the club. She said the group has been busy with a number of community service and volunteer projects so far. “We help the community,” she says. “It’s really fun.” Teacher Victoria Griffin is the club sponsor and is impressed with the students’ commitment. “They show up for everything,” she says. “They do everything.” Lily Kirkpatrick, an eighth-grader and vice president of the club, said her grandmother is a Lion. It was part of what inspired her to join. Plus, it was an opportunity she hadn’t had before. “I’ve never been in a club like this,” she says. “I was really excited about being able to do some sort of community service.” The Leo Club members went to work right away, sorting 3,000 donated eyeglasses into children and adult sizes, bifocals and other categories in preparation to be sent to people in need. And this past fall members helped set up for and run a haunted house for the town of Mesilla. More recently they volunteered at a pancake breakfast fundraiser put on by the De Noche Lions Club. Sixth-grader Emily Allen is treasurer. “I like participating because I like helping make my community a better place,” she says. BY THE NUMBERS 6 Weight in ounces of a gold nugget being raffled by Lions in Australia. 110,360 Flowers used to build the Rose Parade float 1,500 Pounds of chestnuts gathered by Lions in MD 19, District D, to roast and sell over the winter holidays. 17.1 Million deaths prevented by the measles vaccine between 2000 and 2014 80,000 Aluminum tabs donated by the Alum Creek Lions Club to the Ronald McDonald House in Charleston, West Virginia. 300 Bushels of oysters roasted as part of the Massey Hill Lions Club 45th annual oyster roast. OVERHEARD “I did not realize all the Lions did. I’ve known for years about their donating of eyeglasses and helping the blind. But all these other things—fighting hunger, helping the environment—this is all new to me. I’m impressed.” —SUANNE DEWEY-HOFFMAN, first-time attendee of the Mesa Lions Club “That’s amore” fundraiser. “It’s not the cost that counts, it’s the lives that are impacted that are important.” —LION DR. ANU ESUOLA on the medical screening she helped facilitate. “When you see they are going to have Christmas, that’s Christmas to me.” —LION ANN HOLBROOKS of the Norton Lions Club in Virginia, on giving gifts to children in need through the club’s Big Heart drive. 50 YEARS AGO IN THE LION MARCH 1968 Teenagers participating in the sixth season of the Lions International Youth Exchange program learn that despite their different languages, they are “basically the same.” Extra Digital Content Read the full in the March 1968 LION.
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