Touchstone Story #20–Vision Screening

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Lions clubs’ local efforts can change lives

Vision screening has been a part of Lions Clubs International’s mission since its founding and continues today. In 1962, the Lowell Lions Club in Massachusetts staffed concession booths at a fashion show to raise money to screen young children for amblyopia, also known as lazy eye. A condition that is easy to miss, it can lead to loss of vision over time. But if it’s caught at an early age, the chances of successful treatment greatly increase. The Lowell Lions Club raised more than $1,500 during the two-day event.

Decades later, vision screening continues to save children’s eyesight—and sometimes it saves lives. In 2013, kindergartener Brianna Leitten took part in a vision screening organized by the Bloomfield Lions Club in Bloomfield, New York.

After initial screening, Brianna was recommended for further testing. Though her parents hadn’t noticed anything wrong with her vision, Brianna’s eyesight was starting to get blurry by the time of her doctor’s appointment three weeks later. The doctor discovered that Brianna’s retina was completely detached in one eye due to a tumor. It was not known at the time whether the tumor was cancerous, Doctors suggested immediate surgery. But to remove the tumor would require removing the eye.

“It’s a difficult decision to make as a parent,” said Brianna’s father, Gerry. “Understanding you may be making the wrong decision if it’s not cancer.”

Brianna’s parents decided to go ahead with the surgery, and further tests revealed that they made the right decision. The tumor was cancerous, but it was removed before the cancer spread to other parts of Brianna’s body.

The Lions club continued to support the Leitten family throughout the procedure and Brianna’s recovery and helped pay for a prosthetic eye for the courageous and resilient kindergartener.

“Her biggest concern was to get back to school to learn her kindergarten song for graduation,” said Brianna’s mother, Dorie.

The Leittens, in turn, became avid supporters of Lions Clubs International and vision screening efforts for other children. In 2015, Brianna and her parents attended the annual Lions Day at the United Nations in New York and the Lions Clubs International Convention in Hawaii, telling their story and hoping to inspire more Lions clubs to conduct vision screenings.

Vision screening is a simple, fast procedure that can make a big difference in children’s lives. Lions Clubs International’s KidSight program screens more than 500,000 children each year in the United States, and vision screening is a long-standing Lions tradition that saves sight and saves lives.

Explore the exciting history of Lions Clubs International with our exclusive Touchstone Stories series. Don’t forget to share these stories with new members so they gain an understanding of Lions history!


LCIF Awards Disaster Grants, October 2017

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Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) offers a variety of funding options to support various stages for disaster relief operations, including Disaster Preparedness, Emergency, Community Recovery and Major Catastrophe Grants.

For districts impacted by a natural disaster including tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and tsunamis, Emergency Grants provide up to US$10,000. Lions district governors may apply for disaster relief funds to help meet immediate needs such as food, water, clothing and medical supplies. LCIF typically awards more than US$2 million in Emergency Grant funding each year. Community Recovery Grants aid districts interested in supporting short-term cleanup and repair efforts in situations where other organizations have already addressed immediate needs. Lions district governors may submit proposals for community recovery grants.

In October 2017, LCIF awarded 14 Emergency Grants, 1 Disaster Preparedness Grant, and 1 Community Recovery Grant totaling US$147,750. These grants are addressing immediate needs in:

Louisiana, USA, District 8-S
US$10,000 for disaster preparedness

Guadeloupe, District 63
US$10,000 for hurricane relief

Somalia, District 411-A
US$9,000 for flood relief

Nicaragua, District D-5
US$10,000 for hurricane relief

Paraguay, District M-1
US$5,000 for windstorm relief

California, USA, District 4-C2
US$10,000 for wildfire relief

Indonesia, District 307-B2
US$10,000 for volcano relief

Mexico, District B-7
US$10,000 for flood relief

Republic of South Africa, District 410-B
US$10,000 for tornado relief

Turkey, District 118-R
US$3,750 for community recovery

MD300 Taiwan, District 3oo-F
US$10,000 for typhoon relief

Portugal, District 115-CS
US$10,000 for wildfire relief

Guatemala, District D-3
US$10,000 for flood relief

Uganda, District 411-B
US$10,000 for flood relief

Thailand, District 310-A2
US$10,000 for flood relief

Thailand, District 310-E
US$10,000 for flood relief


Please consider making a donation to LCIF’s disaster fund today.

Donate to LCIF


Leo Latin America Forum: Bolivia 2017

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In August, Leos from Latin America gathered in Bolivia at the 37th Leo Latin America Forum.  Forum organizer Leo Janeth Pedriel shares her thoughts on what made this event so special.


What was great about this event?

Something great for us was the large participation of Bolivia. It made us feel very happy to see our goal fulfilled, which was to motivate Leos and Lions to participate as much as possible in our great event for Leos of Latin America and the Caribbean.


What inspired you to lead this event?

We were inspired by service. First, to carry out an activity together and have the whole district work together along with other Leo and Lions districts to provide a great ELAC for all the Leos of Latin America and the Caribbean. And at the same time, to raise awareness of Bolivian Leos and bring this great event back to Bolivia after 10 years.


What was the most memorable part of the event?

The most memorable part for us was our service activity and leadership training workshops. With our service activity, we spent the day at a senior center and were able to help many elders to brighten their day with our presence and bring them things they need. With our leadership workshops, we were able to learn more and motivated each other to continue with our leadership development.


Don’t miss out on upcoming international Leo events! For a list of events near you, check out the Leo events webpage.



Touchstone Story–Fighting Breast Cancer

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Cancer is the leading cause of death around the world, and breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed kind of cancer in women. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime, but early detection can help save lives.

Brenda Tibbetts Lund of the Cayman Islands was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996. At the time, there was very little information about breast cancer available in Cayman, so Lund worked with the Tropical Gardens Lions Club of the Cayman Islands to establish an awareness program. The efforts of Lund and the Lions led to the area’s first annual 5K walk-run and awareness campaign, which was launched in 1997.

Carmin Godfrey of the Tropical Garden Lions Club said that the breast cancer awareness campaign “became our signature project, because it is an issue that is very dear to our hearts.”

Lund passed away in 1998, and the annual event was renamed the Brenda Tibbetts Lund Memorial 5K Walk/Run in her honor. Hundreds come out every year to support the event, support their community and feel empowered to make a difference.

“When I first found out I had breast cancer, I was very scared,” cancer survivor Becky Ebanks said. Finishing the 5K Walk/Run for the first time gave her a great sense of accomplishment. “My family walked with me. That was very important.”

The 5K is a visible sign of outreach, but it’s the conversations about cancer screening and awareness that happen because of the walk/run that really make the difference. As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Tropical Gardens club organizes community forums every October in all seven districts on Grand Cayman. Topics covered in these forums include breast health, self-exams, mammograms and risk factors. The Lions provide vouchers for free mammograms to as many as 600 women a year who otherwise could not afford the cost of the screening.

Since the program’s launch, “the frequency at which you find advanced breast cancer has dropped tremendously,” said Dr. Steve Tomlinson. “Most we’ve seen now are stage 1, stage 2 cancers, with a higher cure rate.”

In addition to local efforts, the Lions Clubs International Foundation has supported cancer-related grants with donations totaling more than US$4 million. About 13,000 women in Venezuela received breast cancer screenings after an LCIF grant provided a mammography machine for District E-1 in Venezuela. In Lebanon and Jordan, Lions helped to equip three clinics that screen approximately 10,000 women every year.

“Education is key,” said Ebanks. “Women need to know they can take control of their health.”

Explore the exciting history of Lions Clubs International with our exclusive Touchstone Stories series. Don’t forget to share these stories with new members so they gain an understanding of Lions history!


Unveiling of Mahatma Gandhi Statue in Oak Brook

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Lions Clubs International President, Dr. Naresh Aggarwal, with the Consulate General of India Ms. Neeta Bhushan and Dr. Deepak Kant Vyas, Chairperson of Redberri Earth Foundation, unveiled a larger than life size bronze sculpture of Mahatma Gandhi at the world headquarters of Lions International in Oak Brook, Illinois on October 30, 2017.

Donated by Dr. Kant Vyas, the Gandhi sculpture is 5.1″ high. It is made of bronze and has been designed by world renowned artist Philip Jackson. The statue sits atop a white marble pedestal. The total height of the sculpture is 7.1″ and its total weight is about 2200 lbs. The Consulate in coordination with Redberri Earth Foundation and Mr. Deepak Kant Vyas family Foundation is planning for permanent installation of the sculpture at an appropriate location in Chicago to mark the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

Dr. Deepak Kant Vyas, Chairperson of Redberri Earth Foundation, and Consulate General of India Ms. Neeta Bhushan

Mahatma Gandhi is fondly called the “Father of the Nation” in India. He was a legendary figure who led India to independence through peace and non-violence . Albert Einstein had once said about him “Generations to come, it may well be, will scarce believe that such a man as this one ever in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth.” Mahatma Gandhi had inspired several world leaders including Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela. His philosophy has been a beacon of hope and peace around the world.

The Gandhi Statue will be on display at Lions Clubs International for the next several months before making its way to a yet-to-be-named permanent location downtown Chicago.

Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization, with over 1.4 million members in 200 countries or geographic areas. Lions are devoted to serving the underserved in areas such as vision and blindness prevention, hunger relief, improving the environment, youth services, and diabetes prevention and awareness.


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