From Wheelchair to Walking

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Up until age six, Amber Farlow was unable to walk. confined to a wheelchair. Born with breathing difficulties, Farlow remained in the hospital for the first 18 months of her life and has endured 55 operations. She still requires assistance from a machine for a majority of the day and night to breathe. But, like any child, Amber wanted to play on a playground.

Turning a dream into reality

When Lions approached the Farlow’s school, Gosford East Public School, about building a special needs playground/activity center, the staff enthusiastically accepted their offer. Such a playground was previously a dream for this school in New South Wales, Australia. But through support from Lions and LCIF, the special needs playground quickly became a reality. The center cost nearly US$170,000 to construct, well beyond the local Lions’ funding capabilities. That is when Lions reached out to LCIF for support and received a US$57,596 grant to construct the special needs playground equipment. In 12 months, the playground was filled with smiling children.

A life transformed

Today, Farlow is experiencing the joy of walking around on her own, using what she refers to as her “magic stick.” This inspiring development in her mobility would not have been possible without Lions and the benefits of the specially-designed playground. Farlow was chosen to give a tour of the special needs playground when the Governor-General visited, and she did so proudly.

“Thank you so much, Lions, for what you have done for the school, my daughter Amber, and everyone there,” said Michelle Farlow. “It’s absolutely amazing. It’s made them happy children who enjoy their lives a lot more.”

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Guest Post by Special Olympics: Never Give Up

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a guest post by David Evangelista, Vice President of Global Development and Government Relations at Special Olympics International.

Ariel“When I was born, some doctors made a somber recommendation to my parents: To let me die. According to these doctors, it made no sense to prolong my life.”

It is with these powerful words that Special Olympics Global Messenger Ariel Ary from Costa Rica opened his keynote address at the 97th Lions Clubs International Convention -District Governor Elect School (LCI-DGE). Captivating some 1,500 leaders Lions Clubs International leaders from across the world, Ary highlighted the key role that civic leaders like Lions Clubs play in empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities through the growing Special Olympics & Lions Clubs International global partnership.

“I am very honored to be here with all of you, people who believe in teamwork as a key to success. People who believe in helping others…Lions clubs around the world set the standards for respect, excellence, and solidarity. People in need have better lives because you, Lions clubs, care for them. That is why I am here to tell you Lions clubs- never, ever, ever give up!”

Ary underscored the many challenges that he and his parents have faced in accessing quality health care, mainstream education, and an integrated community life. Despite the recommendation made by the doctors to his parents upon birth, Ary’s story represents the strong determination, perseverance, and drive that defines the lives of countless individuals with intellectual disabilities and their parents and caretakers. Ary speaks 4 languages, is a dedicated tennis player, an accomplished international speaker, and currently works at the multinational company IBM-Costa Rica.

Special Olympian Ariel Ary with David Evangelista, Vice President of Global Development and Government Relations at Special Olympics International.

Special Olympian Ariel Ary with David Evangelista, Vice President of Global Development and Government Relations at Special Olympics International.

The keynote delivered by Ary served as a strong expression of gratitude and excitement to Lions Clubs throughout the world for their continued support of individuals with intellectual disabilities. Through the shared partnership with Special Olympics, titled “Mission: Inclusion”, Lions Clubs International has helped provide a myriad of opportunities to athletes, including quality vision care, inclusive sports opportunities, early childhood development programming, family support, and much more.

Ary’s leadership is but one example of the impact that can be made through this partnership.  I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s next!

Read the original blog post online here.

Lions Clubs International Foundation has been partnering with Special Olympics International since 2001 through the Opening Eyes program to provide free vision screenings at select Special Olympics sporting events worldwide. Athletes also receive diagnoses for vision-related problems, corrective and protective eye wear, and are taught how to take better care of their eyes. The partnership expanded in 2013 to reach even more people. 

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Lions Clubs International

Contribute to the Lions Blog!

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With 1.35 million members in over 200 countries and geographic locations, Lions everywhere are making a difference in their communities every day. Every life a Lions member touches – whether a young girl who learns to read through a Lions literacy initiative, or a man who receives the eye care he needs to finally see his family clearly – is an amazing story about passion, dedication and service.

The Lions Blog is about sharing these stories. Are you a Lion with a successful service activity to share? Has a Lions club or member changed your life? We want to hear from you!

Download our Contributor Guidelines to learn what kind of stories we’re looking for.

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Video: Lions Guide Dogs at Work

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Guide dogs might be cute and cuddly, but when they’re guiding their owners to safety, they’re at work. The video above features members of the Chestermere Lions Club in Alberta, Canada, who are big supporters of the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides and are working to get the word out about respecting guide dogs at work. That means giving them the attention they need to do their job — instead of petting or playing with them, which distracts the dogs from the task at hand, people should be aware of their presence and react accordingly.

Watch the video to learn more!

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Message from the Chairperson: Making Dreams Come True with LCIF

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LCIF Chairperson PalmerDear Lion,

When I became president of Lions Clubs International, it was a dream come true. Now, I am honored to follow another dream as Chairperson of Lions Clubs International Foundation. The Foundation is a vital part of Lions’ international service efforts, so I am looking forward to seeing what we can achieve this year with support from LCIF.

Last year, LCIF set a goal to raise US$35.7 million in funding to meet Lions’ humanitarian needs worldwide. I am proud to say that you hit that mark! More than ever, Lions are involved in service projects to meet the needs of their communities. LCIF has seen an increase in requests for disaster relief assistance in recent years; Lions Quest continues to expand around the world, reaching more students than ever; we continue to fight preventable blindness, including from diseases like trachoma and river blindness; and we continue in our commitment to our partners at the GAVI Alliance in fighting measles, among many other humanitarian projects.

Your contributions have helped people all around the world by providing disaster relief, saving sight, preventing measles, supporting youth and meeting humanitarian needs. To be able to help even more people, we have a new goal to raise US$38.3 million for LCIF and I know that we will be able to achieve it. In fact, I am going to challenge you to set the goal even higher!

What if every Lions club donated US$100 per member to LCIF? We would raise US$136 million – imagine all of the good that could be done with those funds! As Lions, we can do almost anything. By working together, we can help each other to follow our dreams for a better world. You can make a difference, and LCIF can help.


Barry J. Palmer
Chairperson, Lions Clubs International Foundation

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President’s Service Blog: Planting Trees and Meeting Lions, Mexico

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

As Lions, we are part of a diverse global organization with clubs as unique as the projects we undertake and the people we serve. We may all speak differently,…

Leo Leader Discusses the Rewards of Leo Clubs

Friday, January 27, 2012

Many of our Lions clubs sponsor Leo clubs, a youth organization that encourages leadership and volunteering. Lions work together with Leos and provide young people with the tools that…

LQ: Rain Barrels Help Protect Water Quality

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Many of our Lions clubs make providing reliable access to clean water a priority. In Maryland, the signature service project of the Bowie Lions Club also conserves water…

LQ: Lions Are Fighting Global Hunger

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Hunger kills more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Throughout the world, Lions are making a difference by feeding the hungry. Our clubs organize food drives, support…