I know Lions around the world join me in expressing their sincere condolences to the people of South Africa as they mourn the death of their former president Nelson Mandela.
As a freedom fighter, statesman, and ambassador of peace, President Mandela set an example for millions of people to emulate. His passion for others and his demonstrated ability to bring people together endeared him to people from every culture. His position of non-violence even in the midst of turbulent times set him apart and elevated his prominence as a world leader. There can be no better example of his universal respect than his being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
He served the people not only of South Africa, but of every nation. Even after he left the office of President, he remained at the forefront of civil rights. He belonged to the world, and the world will miss him.
It is the fervent hope of Lions Clubs International and our members in 208 countries that Nelson Mandela’s platform of peace will continue to influence world leaders and usher in a millennium of peace and understanding.
Barry J. Palmer
Happy Leo Day! Today marks an opportunity to recognize and celebrate Leos’ involvement in community service.Engaging youth through Leo clubs is a big part of making a long-term impact through Lions clubs — after all, Leos are our future! And the leadership skills, humanitarian service and friendships that young people gain through Leo clubs are critical to helping them follow their dreams.
What special event do you have planned for today? Are you holding an induction ceremony for new Leos, or a joint service project with your local Leo club? Be sure to share your photos on Facebook and Instagram, and connect with other Leos worldwide on the Leo Club Facebook Page!
Visit the Leo Zone for information on sponsoring a Leo club, Leo events and resources, and more.
As part of the 2013 Special Olympics Asia Pacific Regional Games in Newcastle, Australia, Special Olympics Asia Pacific held a regional Health Symposium, which brought together health and development experts from Australia and the region. The goal of the Symposium was to highlight the significant health disparities experienced by children and adults with intellectual disabilities, and to emphasize the urgent need for increased action and support to ensure the quality health and well-being of this most marginalized population.
I had the honor of speaking at this event — discussing the history of the LCIF/Special Olympics partnership, during which Lions have provided vision screenings for more than 350,000 athletes in over 70 nations. With the help from global partners, Lions have also provided prescription eyeglasses to more than 110,000 athletes.
In July, LCIF pledged $7.8 million to Special Olympics to strengthen our partnership, creating more leadership opportunities for athletes, increasing health opportunities and reaching more young people through inclusive sports and advocacy programs.
I had so much fun at the games! Above is a photo of part of the opening ceremonies. I’m looking forward to a long-lasting partnership that helps serve these talented athletes.
René Henderson and Liz Lamach of Concord, Calif., have a reason to smile during a difficult time. An inclusive playground for children of all abilities built in honor of her deceased son, Matteo, will be a float design in the 125th Annual Tournament of Roses Parade.
“Since Matteo’s passing, it’s been kind of bleak and dark,” Lamach said of her son who passed away in 2011. “This is a ray light. It kind of opened a door that has been closed for a while.”
Matteo was blind and suffered from cerebral palsy. He was the inspiration for a “Matteo’s Dream,” a city playground built for disabled children in 2007.
Lamach wanted a playground where Matteo could play shoulder to shoulder with other children. She enlisted design firm Leather & Associates and local Lions clubs to make the dream a reality.
“I insisted on rubber surfaces, which was unheard of because most designs had gravel or sand,” said Lamach of her quest to design a practical park. “I was warned of the cost and that it would delay the opening. But I told them I would rather wait a year and be able to do it right.”
The playground made headlines in the Bay area for being one of the first inclusive parks in the region and also because the community built it in eight days.
“This would not have happened without the Lions,” said Lamach. “There would be no Matteo’s Dream without the Lions club.”
Lions raised $750,000 to help build the park.
More than 3,000 volunteers erected the 12,000 square-foot playground. Many of the volunteers were members of the 45 Lions clubs in the region.
“It was like a barn raising, when the whole community would come together to help a neighbor build a barn,” said Concord Director of Parks and Recreation Joan Carrico. “It is very rare in that you get to see something like that in your career. It was just very special.”
Lions Clubs International President Barry Palmer has challenged Lions all over the world to dream big and take on projects that turn the impossible into possible. Lions felt Matteo’s Dream was a perfect fit for this year’s Tournament of Roses theme – Dreams Come True.
“It’s just an incredible honor,” said Henderson, who was laughing and crying at the same time when she found out about the float with Lamach. “I was touched more than I can say.”
Next week, the Lions Clubs will be hosting a maintenance and clean-up day for Matteo’s Dream. Lamach and Henderson will be there as both have joined the Concord Lions Club.
Both Lamach and Henderson will be traveling to Los Angeles a few days after Christmas. On December 30, they will join with other Lions Clubs to help decorate the float.
On Jan. 1, 2014, they will ride the float together wearing shirts with Matteo’s photo on it.
Help spread the word about Lions’ participation in the 2014 New Year’s Day Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. We’re asking for all Lions around the world to share the video above with at least one friend outside their club through email, Facebook or Twitter with the hashtags #MatteosDream and #RoseParade.
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