For 80 years, Central Albertans have benefited from the dedication of area Lions Clubs.
It’s a legacy that was celebrated earlier this month at Red Deer’s Pidherney Centre, where the Innisfail, Lacombe and Red Deer Central Lions Clubs gathered for a luncheon to mark the milestone.
Lions Clubs have been involved in just about every aspect of their communities. Beginning in 1938, the Lacombe club has been involved in everything from building tennis courts, sponsoring sports teams and providing milk to school children.
The Lacombe Lions Ball Tournament began in 1950 and ran for 39 years. It was once estimated that as many as 40 players who came to the tournament made it to the “big time,” including former Montreal Expos star Tim Wallach.
Lacombe’s club has also been a major supporter of the Lacombe Memorial Centre, most recently providing funds to equip the two bars at the centre.
Red Deer’s Lions Campground was a centennial project by the city’s club and is considered one of the best urban campgrounds around.
Innisfail Lions started up the Raspberry Park campground in the 1980s there and have been managing it for many years.
Lions clubs have also been major supporters of projects to provide eyeglasses for developing countries among other projects.
Red Deer Lions Club funded an aquatic therapy pool for Red Deer’s hospital in the 1980s. About 25 years later, the club stepped in again to raise funds for a new therapy pool.
When Canada celebrated its 150th birthday last year, all three clubs celebrated with projects.
Red Deer’s club donated $50,000 to the Red Deer City Soccer Association to be the title sponsor for the new soccer pitch at Westerner Park’s Agricentre. Along with an older pitch, Red Deer now has the biggest non-boarded indoor soccer fields in the province.
The Lacombe club partnered with the City of Lacombe to install a fountain in Cranna Lake. A plaque mounted on a large rock on the shore designates the project as the Lacombe Lions Fountain.
Innisfail’s club added a “zip cruze” to Raspberry Park to go along with a large toboggan hill added in 2015.