Former President Jimmy Carter credits Lionism as a positive factor in shaping his life.
Westport Lions Roar
By Lion Bob Reddick
“Lions changed my life,” said former president Jimmy Carter. “I would have never been ambitious enough to run for Governor of Georgia. I would have never dreamed of being President of the United States if it were not for the Lions.”
Mr. Carter followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the Plains Lion Club in 1953 a week after he resigned from the navy. During his term as club president in 1957-58, the Plains club built and began operating a community swimming pool. Also, their club was involved in blindness prevention projects in Georgia and Honduras.
Lion Carter found that Lionism is a great way to engage in public service. It helped him to expand his horizons and he credits the many lessons he learned while serving his community as helping him in his career as a politician and peacemaker. He says the Lions’ commitment to service showed him the importance of caring for others.
Being zone chairperson, district governor and chairperson of the Council of Governors in Georgia gave him a visible involvement with the Lions. This high profile with the 208 clubs throughout the state of Georgia helped him immensely with his campaign for governor in 1970. During his presidential campaign in 1976, he tributes his “civic involvement as a Lion contributed to my identity as a community leader.”
After leaving the White House, Mr. Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, founded The Carter Centre in 1982. Its mandate was to advance human rights and diminish human suffering around the world.
In 1994, the Carter Centre partnered with Lions International Foundation (LCIF) SightFirst program and focused on two blinding diseases, trachoma and river blindness. River blindness is a vector-borne parasitic disease that leads to blindness, and trachoma is the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide.
From 1994 to 2018, the partnership resulted in more than 236 million treatments to eliminate river blindness and over 177 million treatments to halt the blinding effects of trachoma. Over 799,000 sight-saving surgeries to reverse the advanced stage of trachoma have been performed, and more than 3.2 million latrines have been built to reduce transmission of infection. Since 1994, LCIF has approved more than 60 river blindness and trachoma grants totaling over US$67 million.
LCIF and The Carter Center believe in the power of partnerships. No single organization or country can hope to eliminate tropical diseases like river blindness and trachoma on its own. As we see today, to conquer these dreaded diseases and viruses takes the efforts and cooperation of many diverse teams.