Touchstone Story #89–Lions Humanitarian Award

Highly visible on the world stage or quietly working in remote places to serve others in need, the amazingly diverse group of men and women honored with the Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) Humanitarian Award have one thing in common: Their work has made the world a better place.

Established in 1973, Lions’ highest honor has gone to Nobel Peace Prize winners (Mother Teresa in 1986 and Wangari Maathai in 2010) a sumo wrestler (Koki Taiho in 1982 for his efforts to promote volunteerism in Japan), heads of state (former  U.S. President Jimmy Carter in 1996 and His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand in 1999), as well as performers (actor Danny Kaye in 1974 for his dedicated work with UNICEF and soprano Barbara Hendricks in 2001 for her efforts to support refugees and international peace).

The award often caps a long life of “substantial humanitarian accomplishment.” The phrase certainly applies to the remarkable 50-year career of Dr. M. C. Modi (1989), an ophthalmologist who performed more than 5 million eye surgeries at remote “eye camps” across south India. Villagers called him kannu kotta annu ‘the brother who gifted us sight.’

All Lions can submit nominations for the annual LCIF Humanitarian Award, which may account for the wide range of causes and recipients through the years.

Presentation of the award is always a high point of the International Convention. As part of the ceremony, LCIF provides the award winner’s charitable organization a grant of up to $250,000. Lions are inspired by stories of dedicated service that reflect the organization’s ideals and principles. And the honorees receive heartfelt encouragement and financial support to carry on their humanitarian work.

Explore the exciting history of Lions Clubs International with our exclusive Touchstone Stories series.