The Gates Foundation has awarded LCIF $5 million

By Russell Sarver Past international director of Lions Clubs International

Russell Sarver is a Past international director of Lions Clubs InternationalLions Clubs do great work locally and around the world. Below are some examples of what has been accomplished.

Update of measles initiative: Since joining the measles initiative last year, Lions Clubs International Foundation, in a collaborative effort with several leading organizations to eliminate measles, have vaccinated the one-billionth child for measles. Since 2001, the World Health Organization estimates that measles has been reduced by 78 percent. In 2009, almost 900,000 African children died from measles; and in 2010, 164,000 died from measles.

The Gates Foundation has awarded Lions Clubs International Foundation $5 million for the program this year, by matching every $2 that LCIF raises with $1, and they have set a combined goal of providing $15 million toward this initiative.

Lions Clubs making impact in South Asia: Lions helped to raise more than $200 million during Campaign SightFirst II in donations and pledges. These funds already are having a great impact around the world, including South Asia. To date, in South Asia, the program has helped to fund 112 projects totaling $16.9 million. These funds are being used to upgrade or expand 72 clinics and hospitals, provide 496,200 cataract surgeries, and train 96 midlevel ophthalmic personnel. In addition, one eye hospital will be constructed and equipped, and one multiple district diabetic retinopathy program, including equipment and training, has been completed.

LCIF awards grants: At the recent international board of directors meeting in Hong Kong,  55 grants were awarded, totaling $4.09 million and benefiting 915,778 individuals. This includes $1.19 million for the Special Olympics Opening Eyes program.

River blindness eliminated in Colombia: Since 2004, SightFirst has been a contributing partner in the Onchocerciasis Elimination Program (River Blindness) of the Americas, which works to end river blindness in Latin America. As a result of work done in these areas, it is announced that Colombia is now free from river blindness.

LCIF providing famine relief in Africa: Right now, famine is threatening the lives of millions of people in Africa. As always, Lions are bringing aid to the people affected by this disaster. LCIF has approved a $15,000 grant to support famine relief. Lions in Kenya also collected $10,000, and our members around the world are rallying to help. Lions in Sweden are donating $77,000; a Lions Club in Germany has pledged to collect $7,100; and Lions from Ethiopia are also taking part in relief efforts.

Lions Clubs March in the National Memorial Day Parade

Washington, DC (PRWEB) June 01, 2011

More than 100 Lions Club members marched down Constitution Avenue with their purple banners held high for the National Memorial Day Parade, despite the ongoing heat wave and advisory. Hydration was key with refreshing Pepsi products, generously donated by the local bottler.

SiriusXM radio host, Joe “The Black Eagle” Madison and Lions Clubs Past International President Clement “Clem” Kusiak rode the float “Saluting our Military – Beacons of Hope” with a dozen Lions military veterans who had served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. They were joined by fellow Lions from Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware carrying their club banners.

“It was a scorcher but worth every step,” said Lions District Governor Sandi Halterman. “We must remember those brave soldiers who have endured many more hardships in order for us to live in the great country we have here today.”

This is the third year Lions Clubs have participated in the parade. In past years, over 200 Lions from Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia have marched in the National Memorial Day Parade.

Lion veterans will be wearing sashes in recognition of their years of service. These Lions have proved themselves heroes on the battlegrounds, in the air, on the sea, and they continue to serve their communities today.

Madison is the host of the weekday morning coast-to-coast show on Sirius/XM Channel 128 “The Power” every Monday – Friday, 6am to 10am ET and WOL-AM in Washington DC. He is recognized as a human and civil rights activist, abolitionist against slavery in Africa, television commentator, columnist and lecturer.

Kusiak, of Linthicum, MD, is the permanent parade marshal of the Lion Delegation of the National Memorial Day Parade. He is the founder of the Kusiak Lions Youth Foundation that empowers young people to help themselves and others through activities supported by local Lions Clubs and their communities. Kusiak is the highest-ranking member of the regional international family of Lions in the national capital area.

The 2011 National Memorial Day Parade included a very special tribute to the fallen of September 11, as we approach the 10th anniversary of the attacks. Its focus was on the sacrifices of the Special Operations community, who is leading the fight in the current operations in Afghanistan. Other themes touched on included the Centennial of Naval Aviation, the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, and the 20th anniversary of the Gulf War.

Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization with more than 1.3 million members in approximately 45,000 clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas around the world. Lions are a group of men and women who identify needs within the community and work together to fulfill those needs.

Since 1917, Lions clubs have aided the blind and visually impaired, and made a strong commitment to community service and serving youth throughout the world. For more information about Lions Clubs International, visit

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter Dedicates ‘Gift of Sight’ Statue in Recognition of Lions’ Blindness Prevention Efforts

President Carter, to visit LionsOAK BROOK, Ill., Jan. 26 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter will dedicate the “Gift of Sight” statue on Tuesday, January 27, 2009, at Lions Clubs International headquarters, 300 W. 22nd St., Oak Brook. The statue symbolizes Lions Clubs International Foundation’s (LCIF) ongoing collaborative efforts to combat preventable blindness and is a gift to Lions from The Carter Center.

The bronze statue depicts a child leading a man blinded by river blindness. For hundreds of years, a child leading a blind elder has been the fate of families stricken with river blindness, or onchocerciasis, in Africa and Latin America.

The dedication of the statue is part of a two-day symposium at Lions Clubs International headquarters where leading sight and health organizations from around the world will gather to discuss positive youth development and blindness prevention. A Lions club member, President Carter has long joined Lions in their fight to save and restore sight.

“Rosalynn and I have seen the devastating effects that blinding diseases have on individuals and their families. The Carter Center and Lions Clubs International Foundation, along with other vital partners, are working to preserve the vision of millions of people in Africa and the Americas,” said Carter Center Founder President Carter. “Thanks to these coordinated efforts, river blindness is nearly eliminated from the Western Hemisphere.”

LCIF recently completed a three-year global fundraising campaign, raising $203 million to continue and expand LCIF’s SightFirst program worldwide. Fifty million will fund projects to combat emerging threats to sight in the U.S. and other developed countries, such as conditions related to diabetes, low vision and glaucoma. More than $100 million will support programs that control and eliminate the major causes of blindness, such as river blindness, cataract and trachoma. The remaining $50+ million will fund support new research initiatives and rehabilitation.

LCIF has a long history of partnering with The Carter Center and Merck & Co., Inc. to fight river blindness. Through these joint efforts, experts predict river blindness will be eliminated in Latin America by the year 2012.

“It is a great honor to have former President Jimmy Carter dedicate this symbolic statue,” said Lions Clubs International President, Albert Brandel. “This partnership program is preventing and eliminating blindness around the world, and Lions are proud to take a hands-on approach.”

Currently river blindness is prevalent in Latin America and Africa and is transmitted by the bite of a black fly. The disease is often blinding but can be prevented through the medication Mectizan(R). Merck has donated 600 million doses of the drug to LCIF and other partners, and LCIF has awarded more than $30 million to The Carter Center for river blindness and other eye disease control programs through the Lions-Carter Center SightFirst Initiative. Lions play a vital local role in the programs, helping educate people on the diseases, distributing the drug and providing for eye health training and equipment.

Partnerships with leading NGOs and corporations play a key role in enabling Lions to promote and expand the global humanitarian effort to combat preventable blindness.

The statue was commissioned by The Carter Center Board Chair, John Moores. The sculptor, R.T. “Skip” Wallen, internationally recognized sculptor and printmaker from Juneau, Alaska, volunteered his time to produce the original bronze study. Other life-size castings of the “Gift of Sight” statue are located at The Carter Center in Atlanta and Merck & Co., Inc. Headquarters in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, as well as four additional locations worldwide.

Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization with 1.3 million members in 45,000 clubs in more than 203 countries and geographical areas around the world. Lions Clubs International Foundation is the charitable arm of Lions Clubs International. LCIF was ranked by a Financial Times’ study as the number one non-governmental organization with which to partner. Established in 1968, LCIF has been involved with blindness prevention and treatment for nearly 20 years through the SightFirst program. LCIF has awarded $231 million for sight programs and prevented serious vision loss for 30 million people. Learn more at and

“Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope.”

A not-for-profit, non-governmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers in developing nations to increase crop production. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide. Please visit to learn more about The Carter Center.

A Former president will visit Lions International

President Carter, to visit LionsJust days after President Obama called on citizens to write to soldiers, help in soup kitchens and devote time to assist others, former President Jimmy Carter will come to Oak Brook to continue his long legacy of service.

On Tuesday, Jan. 27, Carter will visit Lions Clubs International headquarters to dedicate a “Gift of Sight” bronze sculpture, which is a gift from The Carter Center, a not-for-profit group working to advance human rights.

Since Carter is a longtime Lion, the statue is a thank-you to the organization for its latest donation of more $203 million for international sight programs and research through its SightFirst initiative.

Al Brandel, president of Lions Clubs International, said it was easy to convince Carter to travel to Oak Brook.

“I didn’t have to twist his arm,” he said with a laugh.

Brandel said most of the $203 million was raised by local Lions Clubs throughout the world, including groups in Bloomingdale, Glen Ellyn and Naperville. Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization with 1.3 million members.

“We are so proud of the clubs we have around the world doing things in their own communities that sometimes don’t even come to our attention,” Brandel said.

While Lions Clubs serve their communities in whatever way they see fit – rebuilding after disasters, helping needy families during the holidays – the group also has a long history of working to prevent and reverse blindness.

Brandel said the club forged a partnership with The Carter Center in 1996 to fight river blindness, which is caused by infection.

“It was just a marriage made in heaven” Brandel said. “We have almost totally eliminated river blindness in South America and now our focus will be on Africa.”

The life-size sculpture Carter will dedicate Tuesday depicts a child leading a man who lost his sight to river blindness.

Carter’s dedication corresponds with a two-day symposium that runs Monday and Tuesday at the club’s Oak Brook headquarters. Representatives from organizations and governments worldwide will gather to discuss youth development and blindness prevention.

Brandel said the event attracted attention of major not-for-profit groups, including The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Carter’s visit, he said, will help the initiatives gain more visibility.

“The attention we bring to ourselves and our good works will not only increase our membership but improve the communities we are serving,” Brandel said. “It is a synergy of us all getting together and giving something bigger and better to the people we serve.”

Stunning Success of Campaign Means Sight for Millions

By :Albert F. Brandel, President
The International Association of Lions Clubs

Albert F. Brandel, President The International Association of Lions ClubsThe Navajo Reservation in Arizona is beautiful, rugged country. The landscape matches the people. Many Navajo survive with little income yet they maintain a strong sense of community. Sadly, one thing their community often has lacked is vision care. Maureen and I were privileged to participate in eye screenings in October on the Navajo Reservation in Window Rock as part of World Sight Day. We were part of a very worthwhile effort that uncovered vision problems and distributed eyeglasses to those in need. (Lions also did diabetes screenings for Native Americans, Hispanics and senior citizens in Phoenix.) If you’ve ever been on a screening or mission, you know what it’s like to directly help those in great need. It’s just a wonderful feeling.

Maureen and I also recently were in Africa to observe Lions in action. We met with a grateful 26-year-old mother whose corneal transplant enabled her to see her two kids for the first time. Some people think I’m an unemotional police detective. But meeting that mother and realizing what the Lions did for her brought tears to my eyes.

Thanks to Lions, the world is full of stories such as the mother in Africa. We’ve also helped community after community meet its vision needs. Our main weapon in the fight for sight is SighFirst, of course, and the incredible success of Campaign SightFirst II will enable Lions to protect or restore the sight of millions. The $200 million we raised will bring sight–and the ability to live independently, to attend school, to work and to reach one’s full potential–to people in developed nations such as those in North America and in developing nations in Africa and Asia.

I want to thank all Lions who supported the campaign. Your generosity was outstanding. As always, Lions came through. It’s not easy to maintain your regular club projects and also support a larger cause. But club after club, Lion after Lion, put in the extra time and effort to ensure the campaign met its goal.

Now comes the part that makes the effort worthwhile–performing the operations and screenings, building eye clinics and hospitals, distributing medication and training eye care professionals, bringing the gift of sight to children and senior citizens and everyone in between. The campagin was a great success. But a year from now, two years from now and for many years to come, Lions will use these funds efficiently and effectively to restore sight and prevent vision loss for multitudes.