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.

Akron Marathon winner celebrates with hometown support

By George Thomas Beacon Journal staff writer

Akron MarathonBecki Michael of Akron could feel the love. The winner of the women’s portion of the Akron Marathon crossed the finish line at the 2:45:57 mark and one of the first people she looked for was her mother, Denise Calabretta of Alliance.

Michael, an Alliance native, former runner for the University of Akron and Olympic trial qualifier, came to Akron with specific goals for her first run in this event.

“I wanted to break the course record of 2:39:09, but it was apparent at the halfway mark that wasn’t going to happen,” she said. “Ultimately, the goal was to win. I wanted to win the hometown marathon, and I did.”

On a Saturday morning that featured cool, cloudy weather, the kind tailor-made for this type of race, Michael beat her nearest competitor, Kent’s Shanna Ailes, by 15 minutes.

But her statements betrayed a hint of regret.

“It wasn’t as fast as I would have liked, but I’m going to the Olympic trials, so I’m happy,” she said.

From the cheers that greeted her arrival at Canal Park, it was apparent that she had significant support in the stands.

“I can say that I had a city behind me, that’s for sure,” she said.

The weather may have offered cover for local runners, but for men’s winner Peter Kemboi, who lives in Hebron, Ky., but hails from Eldoret, Kenya, it was akin to running on a frigid December day.

“It’s too cold,” said Kemboi, who finished the run in 2:22:46.

Kemboi, 31, spends three months in the United States competing, then returns to Kenya to train for four months. The conditions in his native country are drier and more arid, and the slight African felt the chill in his frame.

It’s the second consecutive year that the Kenyan has run the race. Last year, he placed third.

“I’m very happy today. I ran good today and improved my time from last year,” he said.

Still, he said he felt as if he could have run the race at a better pace.

“If I had stronger guys to boost me, I would have run faster,” he said.

Kemboi and other competitors said that the course challenged them in areas where hills played a prominent role.

Cuyahoga Falls’ Dave Petrak came closest to giving Kemboi a run for his money with his 2:30:27 finish.

He ran the race with his twin brother, Dan, who placed eighth overall with a time of 2:39:45. Five Petrak brothers ran in some form or fashion.

“It’s probably in our genes,” he said. “We just have that stubborn element.”

That trait served him well, as he hung with Kemboi before his competitor finally broke away during the second half of the run.

“Right at the beginning of the first parking lot at Sand Run is when he first started to put some distance on me,” Petrak said. “He just kept increasing. He ran very well.”

Petrak took four years off from competitive running, primarily because his school schedule would not allow the dedication that it required. The Akron Marathon was his first race back.

“It definitely wasn’t the time I wanted. I went out ridiculously fast and I wasn’t able to maintain that pace, so I’m quite disappointed with my finish,” he said. “But I still ended up second, so it wasn’t that bad.”

Other results: Andrew Musova (2:38:07) of Santa Fe, N.M., won the men’s masters division. … Tracy Wollschlager (3:03:57) of Novi, Mich., won the women’s division in that race. … Akron’s Michael Capriolo won the men’s half marathon in a time of 1:10:56. Canton’s Brandi Howard finished first in the women’s division in a time of 1:28:18. … In the masters division, Brian Mazur of Jackson, Mich., won the half with a time of 1:21:33 and Marlene Bloomfield of North Olmsted placed first in the women’s division with a time of 1:32:32.

Results from the 2011 Akron Marathon can be found at www.akronmarathon.org.

Prestatyn bus off on a road trip to Uganda

A MINIBUS that has ferried housebound residents around the area is to have a vital new role taking sick children to hospital in Uganda.

Prestatyn and Rhyl Lions Club is donating its bus to the Uganda Eye Bus appeal after stricter health and safety regulations forced the club to take the vehicle off the road.

Club member Gerry Beasley said: “The bus is 10 years old and it will be used out there for another 10 years taking people to hospitals.

The bus will be taken by boat to Mombassa, Kenya, where a group of African volunteers will drive the bus to Kampala, Uganda.

It will be travelling with a custom-built £60,000 eye operation bus which is being paid for by Lions clubs across the North West and match-funded by the group’s international foundation.

Surgeons using the bus can operate on children suffering from cataract and eye problems.

“Vision for All” Achieved Success of Sight Campaign Means 74 Million to be Saved from Vision Loss

For three years Lions clubs worldwide set aside portions of the proceeds from pancake breakfasts and festival food booths, held golf tourneys, raffles and walks, and even staged comedy shows to benefit Campaign SightFirst II (CSF II). The hard work of the 15,000 participating clubs has paid off. Lions now have raised $200 million to save sight and restore vision.

The successful campaign will allow Lions to take their sight-saving service to new levels.

· More than $100 million will be used to support programs that control and eliminate the major causes of blindness, such as cataract, trachoma and river blindness.
· An additional $50 million will fund projects that combat emerging threats to sight, such as low vision, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.
· The remaining $50 million will be used to provide “Vision for All” by supporting research, enhancing outreach programs for vulnerable populations in developed countries and rehabilitation efforts.

Lions at the 2008 International Convention in Bangkok in June learned of the amount raised by CSF II. As the figure was disclosed on a 70-foot wide screen, thousands of Lions in the arena-sized convention center stood up to cheer, whistle and wildly applaud. But a few individuals were missing. To be more accurate, many millions of people were missing from this celebration.

These individuals are the 74 million people who will keep or have their vision restored thanks to Lions’ SightFirst program and CSF II. They live in 91 countries in cities and villages around the world where SightFirst services are delivered at hundreds of SightFirst hospitals, clinics and eye camps. Together, they make up those who would have been victims of blindness had it not been for Lions taking action.

Far from the stage and pageantry, patients have reason to rejoice and thank Lions for restoring their precious eyesight. Dukarui Otunno of Kenya received a SightFirst trachoma surgery that returned his sight. “Seeing again is like being reborn,” he says.

In India, Adabala Lakshmi Narasamha’s vision grew foggy and blurred by cataract, but most distressing, she could no longer see the smiling face of her grandchild. Through SightFirst, she received cataract surgery. “I’m very happy to get back my eyesight, I can see clearly, just like my early days. God bless the Lions for the noble work they are doing.”

Confronting Blindness
The world’s blind population did not always have a Lions’ program to answer the call for help. SightFirst was launched by Lions in 1989. At that time, Lions leaders saw an enormous opportunity to mobilize the association’s 1.3 million members and raise more than $140 million to fight the growing global problem of preventable blindness.

Lions’ SightFirst program worked in partnership with Lions clubs and organizations around the world to improve eye care and make the dream of a life free of blindness come true for millions of people. SightFirst was directly responsible for saving and restoring sight to more than 27 million people through cataract surgeries, vision screenings, a worldwide childhood blindness initiative, trachoma control and river blindness prevention programs and much more. In addition, hundreds of millions of individuals received improved vision care.

On average, Lions could restore vision or save a person from blindness for only $6 through SightFirst. Lions had established themselves as world-renowned leaders in blindness prevention. But despite these successes, more work remained.

According to the World Health Organization, since the 1990s, data based on the 2002 global population showed a reduction in the number of people who are blind or visually impaired and those who are blind from the effects of infectious diseases. Despite these advances, reports showed an increase in the number of people who are blind from conditions related to longer life spans. Experts predicted if SightFirst efforts came to a halt, the world’s blind population would double from 37 million to 74 million by 2020.

A Victory for Sight
CSFII sought to continue and expand SightFirst and address the changing patterns of blindness by raising a minimum of $150 million. Lions also set an additional $50 million challenge goal to help establish “Vision for All” through research, aid to vulnerable populations, and funding rehabilitation efforts and education for those already blind.

CSFII was launched at the 2005 International Convention in Hong Kong. Lions’ CSFII fundraising epitomized Lions’ dedication to the SightFirst program. More than 40,000 Lions clubs raised funds and made pledges. In addition, more than 3,400 clubs became CSFII Model Clubs by committing to the highest possible fundraising goals.

What Lions accomplished through CSFII was an answer to a plea voiced long ago by Helen Keller: “I appeal to you Lions, you who have your sight, your hearing, you who are strong and brave and kind. Will you not constitute yourselves Knights of the Blind in this crusade against darkness?” CSFII is an extension of efforts Lions began more than two decades ago. Combined with the first fund-raising campaign that launched the SightFirst program in the early 1990s, Lions have now raised more than $343 million for sustainable sight programs.

“SightFirst has changed the world, and changed the way that the world sees Lions,” said former U.S. President and Nobel Laureate Jimmy Carter. “Today, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and associations such as LCI play a critical role by taking on projects that governments and corporations cannot. Around the world, national and local governments turn to Lions as partners in safeguarding the sight of their citizens.”