Guest post by DGE Fred Sanderson
After learning about the Ray Hempel Fellowship established as part of the Lions Pride Endowment Fund, Inc, my thoughts drifted back to 1956 when I was a camper at the newly established camp for visually impaired children headquartered at the Boy Scout camp in Poy Sippi. It was my first year attending the camp. The week was especially exciting; the staff took a group of campers to a newly purchased woodland and lake property near Rosholt rumored to become the new site for a camp for visually impaired children. We stayed overnight in an old and abandoned farmhouse that was part of the property.
We were not disappointed in the farm house. The hinges squeaked when the doors were opened, the place had an old musty, long abandoned smell; the floors creaked and were uneven. It was perfect for the telling of late night ghost stories.
We hiked through a particularly challenging stretch of woods, finally reaching a relatively clear space. I recall the staff talking in hushed tones, discussing the audacity of Ray Hempel and others responsible for finding the property, and endeavoring to form something called a Lions Foundation to purchase the property. They marveled at the daunting task of convincing lions across the state to support the fledgling foundation’s efforts to secure the property, and to build a camp on the site for visually impaired children.
Lion Ray Hempel’s tenacity to pursue his dream of building a camp was not surprising, for I had met him when he visited my home, convincing me to attend the camp, and talking of his dreams for the future.
The camp was built, and I attended for the next 10 years.
Fifty seven years have passed, and I have been a lion 44 years and will be serving as district governor next year in 27-B2. Lions Camp has continued to be a priority item for me and I have invested in the Lions Pride Endowment Fund to ensure that the camp serving visually impaired, deaf, cognitively challenged, and diabetic children and adult populations can be preserved and expanded.
The Ray Hempel Fellowship is an excellent addition to the Lions Pride endeavor. It honors and reflects the man whose dream exemplifies the Lion’s motto “We Serve.” His dream enhanced the skills and confidence of others, and his tenacity made the dream a reality.