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Lions Clubs Kick Off 100th Anniversary

Representatives of the state's 150 Lions clubs break ground for a new playground.
 The Leo Club presented student artwork to Past International Director Judge Haynes Townsend.
      South Carolina Lions clubs are celebrating their 100th anniversary with a big gift to the SC School for the Deaf and the Blind. Representatives of the state's 150 clubs kicked off their centennial celebration by breaking ground for a new playground designed for students who are blind or visually impaired.
      "Words cannot express our appreciation to the Lions for their 100-year commitment to individuals who are blind or visually impaired," said Dr. Page McCraw, president of the SC School for the Deaf and the Blind. "The Lions are always there to meet our needs. Perhaps, the centennial slogan says it best, 'Where there is a need, there is a Lion.' "
      The $230,000 playground will be named the SC Lions Clubs Outdoor Recreational and Learning Park. It will include a tactile walkway so that students can feel the textured surface beneath their feet. An amphitheater will include a covered area for students with light sensitivity that can be used as an outdoor classroom and a space for outdoor performances. Accessible playground equipment will feature ramps instead of stairs, and learning club houses will include a bank, post office, and grocery store.
Past Council Chairperson Dr. Dianne Pitts distributed balloons with the Lions 100th Anniversary logo on them.    
      The school's fundraising arm, The Walker Foundation, is working with the Lions leadership to raise the funds needed. SC Lions clubs have raised raised $110,000 toward the project with plans to obtain grant funding for an additional $100,000. Plans are to fully fund the playground through contributions, and donations can be made in honor of the Lions through The Walker Foundation.
      "The Lions have a wonderful legacy with the SC School for the Deaf and the Blind," said Ann Akerman, chief executive officer of The Walker Foundation, the school's fundraising arm. "Every graduate recalls the annual Lions Christmas parties dating back to 1934. Many remember the large gifts of technology, musical instruments, and more. They also recall the generous gifts of Lions' service as student club sponsors, reading volunteers, and leadership training instructors. The Lions will continue to build great memories for our students with the new playground."
      The keynote speaker for the groundbreaking ceremony was Past International Director Judge Haynes Townsend, who is the endorsed candidate for Lions International third vice president. Townsend has been a member of the Dalton, Georgia Noon Lions Club since 1979. He has held numerous offices on the regional, district, and national levels, and his contributions have been recognized with multiple Lions appreciation awards. He was also named Judge of the Year by the state of Georgia.
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 Lions leaders and students posed with tools and hard hats for the groundbreaking invitation.