State Lions convention held in Rugby
The North Dakota State Lions Convention was held in Rugby on October 28-29 and saw 190 registered attendees.
The convention kicked off Friday with cabinet, board and association meetings, along with lunch, at the Eagles Club. Friday evening’s icebreaker was held at Dakota Farms/Northern Lights Inn and included karaoke and hor d’oeuvres.
Saturday began with breakfast and remarks from 5NE District Governor Lion Luis Coca and International Director Jerome Thompson.
Meetings and breakout sessions were held at Rugby High School and the Armory throughout the day, with presentations from Mary Skorheim who talked about her experience having an eye cornea transplant, the Rugby High School FFA team who demonstrated its parliamentary procedure, and Lions Pat and Kevin Vannett who talked about their trip to Mexico to distribute used eyeglasses.
The Lions do a lot of work to create eyesight awareness and help people to see. In 1925, Helen Keller spoke at a Lions convention and asked if the Lions would be knights of the blind. Since then, Lions have worked diligently on various sight-related projects. The Rugby Lions club has helped with Sight for Kids, collected used glasses, donated large print books to the library, and helped pay for eye exams and glasses for those who could not afford those services. The Lions have also donated money to help the blind obtain service dogs.
The Lions hold a state convention annually, but usually conventions are held in the larger cities of North Dakota.
“The state convention has never been held in a small community. Rugby is the first,” said Rugby Lions President, Betty Triplett.
Rugby saw a boom in business because of the convention. Restaurants and motels were full and stores sold product to visiting Lions members.
In each welcome bag, Lions members received coupons to be used at various businesses in the area, according to Shelley Block, Lions member and executive director of the Rugby Chamber of Commerce and Rugby Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.
Triplett said she spoke with several people who had shopped in Borth’s, Stylin’ You, The Brown Lantern and Shopko.
“[The convention] brought a different clientele than would normally be in Rugby,” Triplett said. “The eating establishments, gas stations, convenience stores and shops all saw an increase in business.”
3rd Street Station catered the convention, offering various menu items. “Tracy and their staff did awesome. Everyone kept saying how delicious the food was,” Triplett said.
Triplett said that she would like to see Lions conventions being held in smaller communities more often. “It’s a family atmosphere in small towns, so they do extra,” she said.
During the convention, Father Tom and The Little Flower Catholic Church CYO group presented over 100 glasses that were collected for the Lions at CYO’s Amazing Race.
“It was just awesome,” Triplett said. “Everyone stood up at the end of their presentation and gave them high fives and shook their hands as they left. It was the highlight of our convention.”
The Rugby Lions worked hard to make sure that the convention was a success. “We wanted to impress everyone and let them know that a smaller town can do it just as good as a larger one,” Triplett said. “I think we have something unique [in Rugby], and it’s nice to see something different.”
The convention also included a presentation from the North Dakota Military Funeral Honors Detail, which presented three United States flags that had been flown over the state capital. The flags were given to International Director Jerome Thompson, 5NE District Governor Lion Luis Coca, and 5 NW District Governor Lion Mark Koller.
There was also a Lucky Draw Auction, with 11 tables of prizes. All proceeds from the auction went to Service Dogs of America in Jud.
Rugby has 40 Lions members, but Triplett would love to see more join. “I think the club does a lot for our community and for our state,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun, but we need younger members to keep the club going.”
Next year’s convention will be held in Bismarck, N.D.
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