Special Olympics Flame of Hope

An Exciting Day for LCIF and Special Olympics

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Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) is proud to partner with Special Olympics. The partnership began in 2001 and was meant to provide vision screenings to athletes at Special Olympics sporting events. Since then, the partnership have evolved and expanded.

Recently, Past International President and Past LCIF Chairperson Clem Kusiak represented LCIF at the Special Olympics Unified Relay Across America in Washington, D.C. This relay brings the Special Olympics Flame of Hope to each of the 48 continental United States. The three legs of the relay will meet in Los Angeles to kick off the Special Olympics World Games on July 25.

PIP Kusiak noted that passing the torch was symbolic of “giving support on behalf of 6,000 Lions clubs and more than 1.4 million members in 207 countries.”

PIP Kusiak addresses the crowd at the Sylvan Theater on the National Mall

PIP Kusiak addresses the crowd at the Sylvan Theater on the National Mall

The newest piece of this exciting partnership is Mission: Inclusion, which brings unified sports to Leos and Special Olympics athletes around the world.  Mission: Inclusion is dedicated to promoting social inclusion through shared sports training and competition experiences. Unified Sports joins people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. It was inspired by a simple principle: training together and playing together is a quick path to friendship and understanding.

From left to right: Special Olympics athlete Corey Leonard; PIP Clem Kusiak; Michael Hoar, Vice President, Corporate Partnerships, Special Olympics

From left to right: Special Olympics athlete Corey Leonard; PIP Clem Kusiak; Michael Hoar, Vice President, Corporate Partnerships, Special Olympics

Our Special Olympics partnership provides free vision screenings at select Special Olympics sporting events worldwide, but that’s just the beginning. Athletes also receive diagnoses for vision-related problems, corrective and protective eyewear, and are taught how to take better care of their eyes.

From left to right: Janet Froetscher, CEO, Special Olympics; Clem Kusiak, PIP, Lions Clubs International; Rafael Gómez, VP, CITGO; Timothy Shriver, Chairman, Special Olympics

From left to right: Janet Froetscher, CEO, Special Olympics; Clem Kusiak, PIP, Lions Clubs International; Rafael Gómez, VP, CITGO; Timothy Shriver, Chairman, Special Olympics

A successful collaborative effort, the Special Olympics-Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes program relies on thousands of volunteer Lions, doctors, vision specialists and educators. More than 350,000 athletes have been screened, with prescription eyewear provided to 110,000 athletes. More than 20,000 volunteer eye care professionals have participated in the program. More than 20,000 Lions volunteers worldwide have offered their time and talents for this true team effort that has been active in more than 70 nations.



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Video: Disaster Relief

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The above Public Service Announcement shows how Lions all over the world respond during emergencies and disasters. Providing food, clean water, clothing, rebuilding schools and homes are just a few of the many ways Lions provide immediate and long-term relief following tragedies such as earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes and more. Download the PSA from our website and share it at your next club meeting or service event!

This video is available to download in 30 second and 60 second formats.

Make a difference! Find a club near you

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Lions Lend a Hand for Baby Rodrigue

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Today’s post is written by 2nd VDGe Lion Mike Kerek of the Reynoldsburg Lions. Learn more about baby Rodrigue, his illness and how you can help by following his family’s Facebook page.

I received an email from our MDS on May 7, 2015, who had received it from a  Lion half a world away.  Her message to the other elected district officers and myself was, “Not sure what to do with this, but it could be a good zone project”:

I’m Yannick Bonnefond, President of the Lions Club Reunion Sud France Australe located in Reunion Island (Indian Ocean). Here, we are close to the family of 7-month-old Rodrigue, who has a serious genetic illness called Werdnig Hoffman (Amyotrophie spinale).
The Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, USA, has selected Rodrigue to test a new experimental treatment. His parents, Jean-Francois and Cecile Cadet, and Rodrigue will fly from Reunion Island in 10 days and are expected in Columbus on May the 10th. They don’t know anybody there.
Can you tell me if you know somebody in your Lions club who might help them? They will be certainly lost and far from friends and family.
Thank you very much for your response and your help to this family.
Best regards from Saint Pierre in Reunion Island
President 2014 – 2015

By this point there were only three days before the Cadet family was to arrive, and we had no information at all  to work with except this sole email.

Through email and later Facebook, Yannick and I were able to work together and obtain the flights, times and needs of the family with a couple of hours to spare before they were due to arrive. District 13-F DGe Lion Ben Cosgray and his wife (Plain City), PDG John Fischer (Columbus Southern Pines), French-speaking Lions Vanne Ganziami, Lavie Koubaka, and Rennes Adiwenyaga from Reynoldsburg, along with myself, were all on hand to greet the travel-weary family with smiles, gifts and a warm welcome. We were able to get them to the hotel and settle in with contact information that let them know they had a support system here in the United States. Jean-Francoise and Cecile are not Lions, and were amazed at the response their friends in Reunion provoked, simply by reaching out to fellow Lions and asking for help…even to Lions on the other side of the world.

I’ve been a Lion for 16 years, and for the first time I understood the power of 1.4 million Lions. People I have never met and likely never will, unless I am very fortunate, needed assistance and got it because we were all part of the same organization that lives the motto, “We Serve.” I know the same would hold true for me, should I need it.

It’s an amazing knowledge that regardless of where I am in the world, whatever my concern or need may be, there will be a Lion there to help.


Jean-Francoise and I are staying in touch, and he’s keeping me informed. Little Rodrigue has not yet been accepted into the program he needs, but there is still a possibility. I hope and pray that Rodrigue gets the treatments he so desperately needs. I’m just glad that I could be a part of his life, if only fleetingly, and know that I touched his life and his family’s in a positive manner. It’s the only reward I need to reach out the next time.

2nd VDGe Lion Mike Kerek
Reynoldsburg Lions

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How to Apply for an International Assistance Grant

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Lions around the world are known for looking out for their neighbors, and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF) can help you do just that!

The International Assistance Grant (IAG) program enables Lions clubs in developed countries to partner with Lions clubs in lesser-developed regions on projects that make a real difference for communities in need. IAGs fund collaborative projects that provide direct and immediate services to the disadvantaged. In addition, the program supports projects that aid the blind or disabled.

IAGs provide matching funds from US$5,000 to US$30,000, and fund international assistance programs focused on basic health care, education and literacy, clean water and sanitation, rural development and self-sufficiency programs, services for people who are blind and otherwise disabled, and environmental protection. IAGs can also be considered for Lions’ international medical missions and larger-scale Lions’ eyeglass recycling centers that have a demonstrable impact on serving Lions in developing countries.

If your club or district is considering an international humanitarian project, learn How to Apply for an LCIF International Assistance Grant.


Then submit your International Assistance Grant Application. Remember, IAG applications requesting up to US$10,000 are reviewed internally and may be submitted throughout the year. Applications seeking between US$10,001 and US$30,000 are reviewed three times a year by the LCIF Board of Trustees. Applications are due by July 31, 2015, for review at the October 2015 Board meeting.

Contact the LCIF Humanitarian Programs department at LCIFHumanitarianPrograms@lionsclubs.org for more information.


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Raising Environmental Awareness in Children

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“Lions Club is a voluntary service organization that does not expect something in return, and its strength will increase with every single person. That’s why I wanted to join this community,” said Nazan Sagir, Head of District 118-T Environmental Awareness Committee and member of the Samanyolu Lions Club in Turkey.

The Environmental Awareness Committee of District 118-T prepared a children’s book with the belief that environmental awareness should be developed during the early stages of childhood. “Multiple clubs from District 118-T, members from our community, teachers from the elementary schools, and my family gave their support to this project,” says Nazan.

The book has been distributed to 6,000 children since the beginning of this year. Their goal is to reach a total of at least 10,000.

How is your club improving environmental awareness in children? Share your story!


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