We had heard stories about the “You-pers” and the “Trolls below the bridge” but hadn’t visited the U.P. of Michigan before our recent trip to Escanaba for the Single District 10 Lions Convention. What we discovered was a place where Lions have big ideas, big hearts, and care about their communities and each other. We found a place where Lions from above and below the bridge came together to create a path for an International Director to emerge from the Upper Peninsula as a single candidate for all of Michigan. It was a very special weekend and in the end, I was inducted as an “honorary You-per.”We arrived in Iron Mountain, MI and Davida Mooers, President of the host Heart of the North Lions Club, welcomed us with open arms. The short drive to the hotel gave us a view of the emerging spring season against a gorgeous blue sky.
We made it in time for a short visit with the cabinet where we learned about a significant project being proposed by Lion Bill Bradfield as Centennial Legacy Project. The project is entitled, “Riding for a Cure for Diabetes” and will involve a two-phase adventure. First, a motorcycle ride is scheduled in late July 2016 traveling from Cadillac, Michigan to Sault Ste. Marie. The second ride will start in late January leaving from Sault Ste. Marie riding for 6-8 days on snowmobiles through the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Ontario, and back to Michigan for the remainder of the 15 day event.
In the last seven years, Lion Bill has organized eight extreme rides raising an incredible $243,000 for Diabetes Research and Awareness Promotion while partnering with the American Diabetes Association.
The Meet and Mix Dinner on Friday evening was fun-filled and the local high school chorus from Bark River-Harris School performed a range of pop music with enthusiasm.
In the morning, the District meeting provided Lion Kathy and me with the opportunity to learn about the generous Lions of Single District 10. Later, at the Awards Luncheon, senior Leos from the Bark River-Harris Leo Club spoke about their experiences and passion for service. The Leo Club is very active and the members are the pride of the Bark River and Heart of the North Lions Clubs.
Later, the Governor’s Banquet was a special event that started with a parade of banners from all of the clubs represented at the convention.
DG Tom Lanaville and ID Robert presented three Presidential Certificates of Appreciation to Immediate Past District Governor William Rowe (Gwinn Lions Club), Lion Peggy Lindeman (Gwin Lions Club), and Lion Rose Potvin (Heart of the North Lions Club).
One of the special moments of the convention for me came when Past International Director James Frendeway (1980-81) arrived at the banquet. PID Frendeway is the last International Director from the Upper Peninsula to serve on the Board of Directors. PCC Jennifer Ware is a director candidate from the U.P. and while at the convention, the other candidate from Multiple District 11 (below the bridge) Paul Heinrich withdrew from the election and called for unanimous support for PCC Jenny to be put forward in 2016 at the International Convention in Fukuoka, Japan.
The Necrology Service on Sunday morning started with bagpipes and Past District Governor Don Myers did a beautiful job paying tribute to each of the Lions being memorialized. Candles were lit and the bell tolled for each.
After the convention ended, DG Tom and Lion Davida took Lion Kathy and me to the U.P. Off Road 100 Race Track sponsored and run by the Bark River Lions Club. This is a major project that began under the leadership of DG Tom’s father and it has expanded to an annual event of significant size. Every summer, thousands of people come to the racetrack and enjoy a top-notch event.
As Lion Davida returned us to the Iron Mountain airport, we thought of the beauty, generosity, and friendship shown to us by the Lions of the U.P. We congratulation District Governor Elect Matt Doney and his wife, Lion Laura who will be with us in Fukuoka in preparation for leading District 10 next year.
Best wishes to all who serve!
–ID Robert and Lion Kathy Littlefield