Lawyer from Green set to face ‘Toughest Footrace on Earth’

By Sean Patrick  South Side Leader

Richard-DavisFrom April 6 to 16, Green attorney Richard Davies will be in Morocco to compete in the Marathon des Sables — a race that covers 155 miles in seven days in The Sahara Desert.

Davies, 58, said he has never done anything like this before in his life. In fact, Davies said he has yet to even attempt a single marathon.

The idea for running in the race, the British-born Davies said, came from an alumni newsletter.

“I moved to this country almost 40 years ago,” he explained. “I went to a school in England, and I got an alumni magazine from my high school last year with an article about one of the alumni who’d done the 25th anniversary race in 2010. I thought, ‘That sounds interesting,’ and I started to do some research on it.”

Known as “The Toughest Footrace on Earth,” the Marathon des Sables (or Marathon of the Sands), which will take place from April 8 to 14, is equivalent to running approximately five-and-a-half marathons in seven days — in the desert.

Davies said he has been preparing through a variety of means, including “walking, running and doing exercises to build up [his] core.”

“Approximately 20 percent of the terrain will be sand dunes,” he said. “Most of the terrain is very rocky, and there’s a mountain in the middle of the course.”

In addition, runners will carry a pack with them that includes items such as food, clothing, medical supplies and an anti-venom pump.

“The race involves you carrying everything you need for the week on your back, except for water, which the organizers hand out at control points. The water is rationed,” he said. “And they also provide an eight-person tent. But as far as food, clothing, sleeping bag, bowls, anything like that, you have to carry it yourself. And they limit the amount you can carry. There is a minimum and a maximum amount. Most packs average 20 to 25 pounds.”

Typically, Davies said, 50 to 60 people who enter the race will not finish it. He said he does not plan to be among that group this year.

“I intend to finish it,” he said. “There will be about 1,000 participants this year. About 90 percent of them will run the course, while 10 percent walk it. I have a feeling I will be doing more walking than running. Because it is called the ‘Toughest Footrace on Earth,’ just finishing it is an achievement. Some people try to finish in the top 100 overall or be one of the top 10 Americans or something like that. My goal is just to finish it.”

And even though the Marathon des Sables is considered a race, Davies said he is more interested in the achievement of finishing the race and the experience of taking part in such an event, than he is in worrying about where he finishes.

“There is some money involved for the top finishers, but almost always it’s the Moroccans who win it because they train on the same ground and they train for six months out of the year for the race,” he said. “For most people, it’s just to go out, test yourself physically and mentally, and experience a part of the world that you’re never going to see again in all likelihood.”

Davies said he will be the only runner from Ohio and one of approximately 45 runners from the United States to take part in this year’s event.

“Everybody’s reaction is to ask me if I’m crazy, including my wife and my daughters,” he said. “But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing to do. Honestly, I wanted to do it just to see if I could do it.”

However, Davies said, his reason for attempting the event took on a larger cause when one of his daughters, Amy Troyer, of Uniontown, suggested he do it for charity.

Davies chose to support The Up Side of Downs, a nonprofit organization in Cleveland that exists to provide support, education and advocacy for people with Down syndrome throughout Northeast Ohio.

“My grandson, Ryan, who is 11, has Down syndrome, as does my younger granddaughter, Drusilla, who lives in Portland with my younger daughter, Meredith Hines,” he said. “So I have two grandchildren with Down syndrome and I thought it sounded like a wonderful idea to raise money for Down syndrome and awareness for it.”

Davies said he signed up to participate in the Marathon des Sables last year.

“Normally, it takes two to four years to get in the race. The number of runners who can participate is strictly limited to between 850 to 1,000 runners,” he said. “Usually, the contingency from the U.S. and Canada is between 50 to 60 runners, and they say it’s very unlikely that you will get chosen in your first year. So I signed up to have my name on the list, and I happened to be chosen. It’s strictly a lottery. All they ask for is your name, address, state and country of citizenship.”

Davies said he has received the go-ahead from his doctor to participate.

“I have talked to my doctor, and he said it’s fine for me to go,” he said. “The organization requires that when you arrive in Morocco you have a statement from your doctor that’s no older than 30 days that says you are fit to race it. They also require an EKG to make sure you are physically able to do it.”

And while there will be medical care available throughout the course, Davies admitted he does have some concerns about the race.

“I think I would be silly not to,” he said. “It’s going to be hot in the day — it can get up to 120 degrees — and cold at night. Your water is limited. There is the danger of twisting an ankle or breaking something, and you could suffer dehydration or heat stroke. Blisters are a constant threat and you have to watch out for scorpions and snakes and spiders. Physically and mentally, it can just get very, very tough. Mentally, I think I’m there. Physically, I have eight weeks to go.”

The cost to participate in the race is $3,900. Davies said he is accepting both donations for the Up Side of Downs and sponsorships to help with his expenses.

“I have divided it into donations and sponsorships,” he said. “The donations go directly to The Up Side of Downs; they don’t come to me. If you want to sponsor me, there are sponsorship opportunities. I have had a number of people who have volunteered to help me to defray some of the costs. In return, there will be a banner I will carry with the names on it.”

Donations to The Up Side of Downs can be made online at Mention the Marathon des Sables in the “donate now” comments box so the donations made specifically for this race can be noted. Donations by mail should be sent to The Up Side of Downs, One Independence Place, 4807 Rockside Road, Suite 200, Independence, OH 44131. Mention the Marathon des Sables on the check’s memo line.

Sponsorship contributions can be made payable to Richard Davies and sent to 3572 S. Arlington Road, Suite 2-4, Akron, OH 44312. For a list of sponsorship levels, contact Davies by email at rdl@rich or by phone at 330-899-8846.

And for those who would like to keep track of Davies on his journey, the official website of the Marathon des Sables,, will post updates on all of the runners through a GPS tracking device located on the runners’ ankles. Davies will be listed by his number, which is 962.



From the King Lions Notebook – January 2012


The New Year of 2012 is off to a flying start!  On Wednesday January 11th we had the pleasure of hosting District Governor Dave Gauch’s visit and the swearing in 5 new Uniontown Lions Members.  Our population is currently at 61.

The Annual Reverse Raffle is in the final stages of the planning session. Always a lot of fun but sadly all 200 tickets are spoken for. As always the contribution of $60.00 per ticket is one of the best bargains around.

Our next bus trip is currently being finalized.  We are going South this time and Canada in the fall – more lately.

The Club donated 180 pair of glasses to a missionary in Swaziland last week.  Same as last year. Our Club has been asked to do a presentation of our eye glass recycling program at the up-coming District Convention being held in Canton on March 16, 17, 18.  Dr Kail is also planning to attend if his schedule allows.

We did deliver 2100 pair of cleaned, repaired, and RX identified to Dr. Kail’s office earlier.  He and his team leave for Honduras on the 27th of this month.  Our thoughts and prayers go with them.

The ‘Adopt a Highway’ program has been approved once again by ODOT.  We are waiting on a safety session from them late February.

Working with the Hartville Lions Club, we join forces to purchase 2 new electronic eye charts, used by the Lake School District, to give eye exams to the K-1-3-5 grade students annually. These gifts will be used in both Uniontown as well as Hartville buildings.

The Annual Spouses Night is being held on February 2ed this year at the Hartville Kitchen. Always a great evening

That’s it for now

King Lion Gary

Laurel Lions clawing to keep up fundraising efforts

by Holly Nunn, Staff Writer

laurel LionsThe 525 trees in the parking lot of Laurel Mall represent 525 families’ holiday cheer, said Phil Ault, a member of the Laurel Lions Club.

“When I sell a tree, that’s someone’s Christmas,” Ault said. “It’s the thing that’s going to make their Christmas happy.”

But the trees also represent the biggest source of income for the service club, which donates to causes like high school scholarships, medical bill assistance, and eye care and food for the homeless. The amount of money the club raises from the sale has significantly decreased in recent years, losing out to the economy and the appeal of artificial trees, said Ault of North Laurel.

The Laurel Lions Club has been raising funds for the community for almost 80 years, and selling trees, shipped from Pennsylvania and Canada, for 54 years.

“Back in the day, we used to order 1,200 trees. We’d make up to $40,000,” Ault said. “We keep decreasing the amount of trees we order. But last year we still had 30 surplus trees.”

Ault said this year the club ordered 525 trees, down from 675 last year. Ault said that with the economy, they felt that was all they could sell. The lot opened Nov. 26 and by the weekend of Dec. 10, the club had raised $6,000. Ault said the club hopes to make about $5,000 more with the 100 trees left.

Prices on the fir, spruce and pine trees, which are sold in the Laurel Mall parking lot, range from $29 to $45, with a few 9- to 13-foot trees at $85. The club has held its prices steady over the last few years, Ault said, to continue to make a profit.

On Saturday, Ault helped West Laurel residents Nancy and Wilson Shaffer tie a 7-foot Fraser fir to the top of their van. The Shaffers have been coming to the Laurel Lions for their Christmas tree for more than 20 years, Nancy said, and they don’t mind paying a little extra for a good cause.

“They do so much for the community, and they’re so nice and helpful,” she said.

The Laurel Lions Club is one of 46,000 local clubs that make up Lions Clubs International, a service organization founded by Chicago businessmen in 1917. The clubs, which include men and women interested in community service, focus on raising funds and donating community improvement efforts.

The money from the fundraiser, supplemented by other fundraisers the club holds, including a car show in September, goes toward efforts like this year’s Santa with a Badge event, a shopping trip with police for students in need; support of clinical and research work with The Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins; and Lions Club Camp Merrick in Charles County.

The camp, which is not affiliated with the club outside of funding, is an independent nonprofit for blind, deaf or diabetic children, and since 1979 has been supported primarily through donations from Lions Clubs in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. It has been hit hard in recent years by reduced fundraising, camp President Wayne Magoon said.

“A lot of our issues are recession-based,” Magoon said. “People just can’t donate like they used to.”

Laurel’s club isn’t alone in its service struggles.

Getting more people to volunteer is the biggest problem facing College Park’s Lions Club, club President Ronald Seibel said. He said they stopped selling trees about 10 years ago, because members are older and can’t handle the trees anymore.

“Membership is a constant problem,” said Seibel of Adelphi, who worked for 30 years at the University of Maryland, College Park. “We’re having trouble securing new members from the younger generation. I think it’s the time commitment.”

Seibel’s 31-member club has only five members who are still in the work force.

Laurel’s club still has about 40 dues-paying members, and 90 percent still are working, but only about 20 actively volunteer, Ault said.

Ault’s father, Donald Ault, was a lifetime Lions member, and Phil Ault said he grew up going to Lions events.

“Back then, it was a privilege to be in the Lions. You had to be invited,” Ault said. “Now, we have to recruit people.”

The club has tried lowering dues and easing up on traditionally stringent rules that required attendance at meetings to try to lure more members. The Laurel club has held membership dinners, inviting people to see what the club is about and encouraging them to join — but to no avail, the club presidents said.

Both Ault and Seibel said they have to spread out their funds more than they used to, giving less to each of the efforts they support.

“I think we do a tremendous amount of service for what we have to work with,” Seibel said. “But if we get to the point where we can’t give to the community, well, there’s a whole lot of resources that won’t be there.”

Lions club dedicates Good Will Monument

Sault Ste. Marie Evening News

Lions club dedicates Good Will Monument“On February 8, 1950 the Canadian Sault Lions Club commemorated the relations which for a century and a half, have made a fortified border unnecessary, and to dedicate our countries to this relation henceforth.
The symbol of goodwill and mutual understanding existing between the Dominion of Canada and the Sault Ste. Marie, Province of Ontario, Dominion of Canada. The geographical location of the Lions Club of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan defines this monument as a true beacon of International Good Will.
The dedication of this memorial is by the Lions Club of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, for and in behalf of the Lions Club of Canada: and the acceptance by the Lions club of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, is for and in behalf of the Lions Clubs of the United States, so that all may know that nations can live as peaceful and friendly neighbors without fortified borders.”

These were the words describing a monument placement at a ferry boat landing on the American side of the St. Mary’s River, some 61 years ago. Invitees to the event inaugurating the placement of this Good Will Monument, were Melvin Jones, founder of Lions International and Lions Clubs International President Walter C. Fisher of Queenstown, Ontario Canada.

With the construction of the International Bridge connecting the twin Saults, the ferry service was discontinued and somehow the monument was destroyed and the plaque was misplaced.

After 50 years, the plaque was discovered in a garage and Tom Brown and Bill Munsell, both Lions, made sure the plaque was cleaned and a re-dedication of the monument went into the planning stages.

The official commemoration ceremony took place on November 6, with over 80 in attendance.

Munsell, the Master of Ceremonies, introduced Lion and Mayor Tony Bosbous, along with former Sault, Ontario Mayor, Stephen Butland, SD 10, DG Jim Wash, 1st VDG A-5, Andy McRae, 2nd VDG Jerry Stephens, SD-10, Lion President Glenn Thompson, and Sault, Michigan KL Ron Beacom.

Each speaker praised the eternal link between our two nations and the monument was unveiled. The inscription on the monument for all visitors reads:

“Eternally linked through Lionism by a bond of international fellowship as infinite as the universe and as everlasting as time itself, the Lions of the Dominion of Canada dedicate this monument to the Lions of the United States of America as a symbol of good will and mutual understanding among all nations.”

After a first time visit to the new City Hall on the old Federal grounds, the crowd adjourned to the Cisler Center on the campus of Lake Superior State University and listened to a highly motivated speech given by Lion Chief “Buzz” Melton of Wyoming, Illinois. This charismatic former Fire Chief of Baltimore, captivated the audience with his “Do Something” speech, and comments.

The ceremonies continued as Buzz Melton met with Lions from Pickford, Drummond Island, and the Les Cheneaux Lions from Cedarville at noon on November 7. All Lions benefited as he continued his speaking engagements that evening at the Dafter Lions Club and the Fire Science students at LSSU the next day.

The celebration of the Sault Lions Club’s 76th anniversary was a success, with the Lions  re-dedication of the “Good Will Monument.”

Big coin needed to ship medical supplies


Anyone who shipped off a parcel to family or friends this past holiday season knows it can be costly to get gifts to their destinations.

Langley Lions Club member Ray Tremblay knows only too well the difficulties of shipping items abroad, only his gifts are the size of shipping containers and the gifts are medical supplies Canadians no longer need.

Thanks to generous donations, another shipping container full of supplies are ready to be sent off to Honduras to help some of the poorest communities in the world.
But the Lions needs public help to cover the transportation costs of $8,500. Tremblay said that’s the only hold-up.

This is the fourth shipment Tremblay has overseen and the second one leaving from Langley. It all started with Lions collecting about $60,000 in school supplies which were delivered in 2002, helping about 13,000 kids. Children there can’t attend school is they can’t afford school supplies.

While the education materials were cherished, the Lions, including Tremblay, who went down to Honduras saw that the medical system was critically ill and started collecting supplies and equipment.

In a handful of undisclosed locations, the club has squirreled away used hospital and retirement home beds, computers, cast-off medical equipment, and much more.

“We have all kinds of stuff in hospitals here that is thrown away,” Tremblay noted.

A couple of medical/dental shipments, each containing donations worth more than six figures, have already been sent to South America, and given to hospitals, health clinics and even a fire department. (Tremblay is a retired firefighter).

The Lions have sent a used ambulance, packed to the ceiling with supplies.

“The ambulance has been converted into a medical clinic, a mobile clinic,” he explained.

When some Lower Mainland dentists merged their practices into one building, they donated all the gear from their former offices.

As word spread throughout B.C., health-related groups and organizations, such as retirement homes, would offer up their surplus goods.

Tremblay said once a person has been to a country like Honduras and seen the conditions, they can’t ignore the need.

“You come back a changed person,” he commented.

The Lions have provided what amounts to life-altering supplies to impoverished people where there is little or no social safety net like Canada’s.

“If you help somebody – a child or a person – it doesn’t matter whether they live across the street or across town or in another country,” he said.

The Langley Lions Club receives help in its efforts from the Lions Multiple District 19, the regional organization that includes the 64 clubs of B.C. and the Pacific Northwest U.S. as well as Lower Mainland hospitals and seniors homes that donate old equipment and supplies. CARE, the international relief organization, has a long history of working with local Lions Clubs and helps ensure the materials are distributed when they arrive in South America.

Lions International nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

• by Barbie Porter

Nobel Peace Prize Medal

While most funds from local chapters remain in the community, some proceeds are sent to the international headquarters, which financially supports leader dogs for the blind, relief during national disasters, youth outreach and exchange programs, a hearing foundation and the Lions eye bank.

“Recently, the Lions organization was also nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize,” Eldon reported.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is an active Lions member and received the distinguished award in 2002.

“Generally when a holder of the peace prize nominates someone they’re usually awarded it,” Eldon stated.

Eldon admitted he was surprised the organization was nominated.

“This is the first time a service club has been nominated for the peace prize,” he stated. “And we’re just a normal group of people doing volunteer work.”

The Lions Clubs began in 1917 when Melvin Jones, an insurance man based in Chicago, decided to start an organization which would focus on the betterment of communities.

There were a dozen members when it began. The concept quickly spread across the U.S. and went international in 1920 when the first Lions Club in Canada began.

By 1948 the Lions Club spanned the globe, from Panama to Australia.

Today Lions International has more than 1.4 million members in 182 countries.

While the club continues to gain popularity world-wide the local chapter has also seen a slight jump in membership since its inception.

“I joined so I could get to know people and serve my community,” he said, adding Eldon has been a wonderful president and leader for the club.

Eldon said his one fault is not inviting more residents to Lions meetings.

“The meetings are by invitation only,” he said. “But if someone is interested, contact a Lions member and we’ll invite you.”

Upcoming Lions events:

• The Lions International will hold its 92nd convention July 6-10, 2009 in Minneapolis.