Lions Clubs International

Who are the Lions?

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Today’s post is by Lion Jerome Thompson of the Moulton Lions Club in Alabama, USA. Read his blog at If you are interested in submitting your story to the Lions Blog, download our Contributor Guidelines.

If asked to describe the Lions club in your town, how would the citizen on the street respond?

Who are the LIONS?  If this is the response, we have failed to communicate the valuable service that we render to our community.

A Men’s Club. If this is the response, we have failed to update our image in the last 20 plus years.  Today, women are a vital part of our association.  In fact, women have provided leadership at every level, from club officer to International Director.

Hopefully, the response would be:

  • They provide eye care to those in need.
  • They work with families of children with diabetes.
  • They have partnered with the library to address literacy needs of children and the sight impaired.
  • They are a lively, young, vibrant group of community minded citizens that have improved the quality of life for everyone in our town.

Go ahead and ask the question to your friends, family and neighbors, “Who are the Lions?”  Listen carefully to the response. Then take the necessary action to improve the image of your club.

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Delivering Merck River Blindness Medicine

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“George W. Merck believed that medicine should be for the people, not for the profits. As a company, Merck continually strives to live up to this challenge. This is why we are proud to partner with Lions Clubs International Foundation through the MECTIZAN Donation Program, fighting river blindness in Africa and Latin America. LCIF is a trusted partner in this groundbreaking program, and their commitment ensures that patients in even the most remote areas are able to receive the best available treatment.” –Kenneth M. Gustavsen, Manager, Global Product Donations, Merck & Co., Inc.

Providing the medicine that will stop river blindness

Onchocerciasis, or “river blindness,” is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness worldwide. It is transmitted by a fly that infects people with a parasite that spreads throughout the body, eventually causing blindness. A total of 120 million people are at risk for the disease and half a million are already blind from it, primarily in Africa and rural Central and South America.

For more than 20 years Merck & Co., Inc., one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, has been helping to eradicate river blindness through the donation of Mectizan®—the only well-tolerated drug known to halt the development of the disease. Merck has worked with numerous partners to reach the people who need treatment, including involving the World Health Organization, the World Bank, UNICEF, The Carter Center, various ministries of health, non-governmental development organizations and local communities.

153 million treatments so far, with many more to come

One of Merck’s strongest allies has been Lions and Lions Clubs International Foundation (LCIF). To date, Merck has donated just over 153 million treatments of Mectizan® to LCIF, making the program the longest-running medicine donation commitment in history. Not only have so many people been spared from this debilitating disease, but river blindness is on its way to being an affliction of the past; two Latin American countries—Colombia and Ecuador—have announced its complete eradication, and more countries are to follow. Merck and LCIF remain committed to this goal until it is achieved.

“Colombia’s successful effort in halting onchocerciasis transmission is a landmark achievement in public health,” said Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Founder of The Carter Center. “This remarkable progress would not be possible without the dedicated health workers and volunteers working at the community level and the invaluable public-private partnership with Merck and the Mectizan® Donation Program.”

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Video: I Became a Lion Because…

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At the International Convention in Toronto this past July, we asked Lions from all over the world a simple question: Why did you become a Lion?

The response was huge — filled with stories of meeting Lions for the first time, the desire to serve local and global communities, and dreams of making a difference. Watch the video above to hear real answers from real Lions, and share your own story of why you became a Lion in the comments below!

For more videos of Lions sharing their stories, view the LCICon Videobooth Playlist.

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Video: Lions Down Syndrome Center

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Established in 1997 by the Lions Club of Kota Bharu, the Lions Down Syndrome Center has been providing a place for children with Down syndrome in Malaysia to learn, laugh and grow. The center helps preschool children build language, reading, writing, fine motor skills and basic life skills.

A US$75,000 Lions Clubs International Foundation grant in 2010 helped the center expand into a new building to accommodate growing needs.

Learn more about the Lions Down Syndrome Center and its impact on children’s lives through the following video, featured in the July 2014 Lions Quarterly video magazine: 

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Preston’s Blog: Nourishing Children

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Here is a great video about the importance of nourishing children with nutritious foods, especially in their first 1,000 days — from a mother’s pregnancy to the child’s 2nd birthday. With the right nutrition, children can learn better and lead healthier lives.

This year, I’m encouraging Lions to serve children in their communities. Providing healthy meals to children is just one way your club can make a difference. Possible projects include implementing a school backpack program that brings kids home with books and healthy snacks, or donating food to families in need. Feeding projects also count toward our Centennial Service Challenge goal, in which Lions everywhere are working toward serving 100 million people by 2017.

Let’s make an impact!


Your International President,

Joe Preston

Be sure to follow me on Facebook to see more activities, projects and pictures from my trips around the world.

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Story of the Week: Lions in Canada Host Kayaking Event to Support Dog Guides

Friday, December 9, 2011

Our clubs choose many causes to champion throughout the year. In Canada, the Gravenhurst Lions Club hosts fundraisers in support of the Dog Guides Program of Lions Foundation…

High-Flying Lions Fundraiser in Texas Brings Together Community

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Our clubs around the world organize a variety of fundraisers that gather their neighbors for a common cause, from preserving vision to raising awareness for diabetes. Our film…

Lions in Japan Rally Community Support to Keep a River Clean and Beautiful

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lions around the world work on projects aimed at protecting our environment. Our film crew visited Nagoya, Japan, to see how Lions there lead the way in keeping…

Lions in Morocco Help Children in Need Build a Brighter Future, One Smile at a Time

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Around the world, many of our clubs focus on projects that meet the needs of youth. We sent a video crew to Morocco to see how Lions there…