Since its founding in 1916, Lions Club International is known far and wide for the help it gives to people through a wealth of service projects, providing humanitarian service to 200 million people yearly. From working with local folks who may be blind or visually impaired to providing disaster relief around the world, the Lions Clubs motto “We Serve” is upheld by the men and women Lions Club members who provide unselfish service to others every day.
Here in Tacoma, a new chapter of the Lions Club was launched in May 2017 – Tacoma Centennial Lions Club – and is taking part in the five areas that Lions Clubs across the country are currently focusing on for the next five years: vision, hunger, environment, diabetes and childhood cancer.
The Tacoma Centennial Lions Club has done many fundraisers to date and on Oct. 30 one if its members, Bob Johnson, will attempt to ride 100 miles on a stationary bicycle to raise money for childhood cancer through Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital. His goal: $5,000.
Tacoma Lions District 19C Governor Sharon Sikes has chosen childhood cancer as her signature program, partnering with Mary Bridge Children’s Foundation in Tacoma, with the goal set at $25,000. This inspired Johnson to pitch in and do his fundraiser to help reach that goal.
“Certain clubs are doing golf tournaments or food fundraisers and I just decided that Tacoma Centennial would do a bike ride to raise funds for childhood cancer for Mary Bridge,” Johnson said.
He has already raised around $2,100 for his fundraiser, and for his fellow Tacoma Centennial Lions Club member Angela Davis, it does her heart good. “We’re trying to be creative with ideas on how to raise money…and I’ve really been surprised at how many people have jumped on to donate to this already. People have been getting excited that Bob is going to do something out of the box,” she said.
Davis is immediate past charter president of the Tacoma Centennial Lions Club and has been a Lion for six years, having started in the Fife chapter. Johnson grew up in a family of Lions Club members and joined up in 1978 when he was 25 years old. For the Tacoma Centennial Lions Club, he is club secretary, membership director and visitation chairman.
“My dad was a Lion and I was raised like that (to be of service) so it was just something that really turned me on – to reach out and help people,” he said. “I got help from the Lion’s Club – a $500 college scholarship – so it was a natural thing for me to join. It’s a lot of fun to help people better their lives and better their outlook.”
Oct. 30 will also be Johnson’s 66th birthday, and he will spend the day at home on his stationary bike riding, resting, and riding again until he puts another 100 miles on the odometer. If you would like to be a community donor to his fundraiser, you can do so directly on the Mary Bridge Children’s webpage at http://support.multicare.org/goto/lions19c. You can also contact Johnson at (253) 353-3043 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations are tax deductible. The club is working on having Johnson’s ride live-streamed, so check out the club’s Facebook page on Oct. 30 at www.facebook.com/pg/Tacoma100LionsClub.
The public is warmly invited to enjoy other upcoming Tacoma Centennial Lions Club events. The Spooooktacular Fall Bazaar is on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at First Christian Church of Tacoma, 602 N. Orchard St. There will be gift bags for adults and children, a costume contest, crafts for kids, diabetes education, vendors, raffles, games, and a collection will be underway for hats, scarfs and underwear for the Youth Crisis Center. And, of course, Lions will also be collecting used eyeglasses for recycling as part of the club’s eye health efforts.
More fun is on tap for Friday, Nov. 9, 6:30-10 p.m., at “British Invasion Revisited,” a concert and dance party at Mason United Methodist Church, 2710 N. Madison St., Tacoma. Featuring music of the 60s and 70s, a DJ will spin favorite songs of the era and singer/guitarist Ray Conn (also a Lions Club member) will provide some live entertainment. Tickets are $20 per person and available at the door, at the Spooooktacular Fall Bazaar, and by calling Johnson at (253) 353-3043. Snacks and soft drinks will be available for purchase.
“We’re always trying to find ways to get our community to come in and join in as a community,” Davis said. “We have a lot of fun too – it’s not all hard work. Lions are the most awesome people to be around and it’s a family.”
If you’d like to learn more about the Tacoma Centennial Lions Club’s projects – Beanie Babies for the Youth Crisis Center, collection drives for food and warm clothes, helping a family at Christmas, restaurant takeover fundraisers, and more – the Tacoma Centennial Lions Club meets the first and third Mondays or every month, 6:30 p.m. at the police Sector 2 Substation at 5140 N. 26th St., Tacoma.