Chicago, 03 April 2012: District 1-A, Mother District of Lionism held their annual convention at The Westin Chicago Northwest from March 30th to April 1st with colorful celebrations. International Director Dr. Gary Anderson and his wife Michelle from Michigan were the guests for the weekend.
Celebrations started with Friday’s ‘Sneak Preview Reception’ where registrants opened the convention in Grand Ballroom. Pat Duda entertained the audience with his 11 piece brass band. Governor Wes Salsbury declared the convention open. 498 lions, lionesses, leos and registered guests took part in this convention.
After inaugural program, guests started hopping from one hospitality room to another to taste variety of food, drinks and dance to the music. This year’s theme was “Stars in the Movies” and all rooms were decorated to reflect movie stars from Hollywood except one hospitality room belonged to Dr. Austin Prabhu was decorated with Hollywood and Bollywood stars. Continuous running movie videos were shown in this room to provide entertainment. Visitors enjoyed snacks including Ksheera and Plantain Chips Meat Balls and Cheese and Nachos. Party went on until 1:00 a.m. Several vendors also took part in the convention with goodie sales.
Saturday started with First Plenary Session at the Grand Ballroom. There were educational presentations by Illinois Eye Bank Executive Director Diane Hollingsworth and The Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind Director of Rehabilitation Services Tom Perski. Two lions were awarded with Lions of Illinois Foundation fellowship and one lion received Life Time Achievement Award from the foundation. Then there were three Melvin Jones Fellowship Awards from Lions Clubs International Foundation. Dr. Austin Prabhu was recognized with 11 Diamond Melvin Jones Fellowship Pin by International Director Dr. Gary Anderson. This was the highest recognized award received by an individual lion in the Mother District of Lionism.
After the sessions, luncheon program took place. All Past District Governors joined international guest Dr. Gary Anderson for lunch and rest of the participants had lunch in Grand Ballroom. After lunch, live auction of Theme baskets was conducted by Ray Jachim. After the auction Peace Poster Winner presentation was made and then nominations of District Officers took place. Jerry Novak gave nomination speech to support Dr. Austin Prabhu and Ray Jachim did seconding speech. Other officers running were – Steve Anton for International Director, Dave Hansen for Vice District Governor and Catherine Rondinelli for Lions of Illinois Foundation Trustee.
Chicago Cyber Lions Club members held a session on “A New Twist on an Old Plot: Why We are Lions” on lions activities. After the session there were Church Services. Catholic Mass was celebrated and Palms were distributed by Fr. Richie Vaz, SVD. After mass all participants gathered at the Hotel Atrium for Wine and Cheese reception. Governor’s Banquet took place in the Grand Ballroom with a grand parade to the entrance by District Officials.
Georg Toft received “District Lion of the Year Award.” Dr. Gary Anderson gave away International President’s medals and awards. Georg Toft and Andy Liamaga received Presidential Medals. In his speech, Dr. Gary Anderson asked the lions to promote their activities and embrace new lions to their clubs. He honored first time attendees for the convention with his special mini lions’ pins. Two new members for Chicago Africa Lions Club were inducted to the club by Dr. Gary Anderson. Dr. Austin Prabhu very successfully emceed the program for the banquet.
Club Hospitality rooms were opened at 9:00 p.m. Dr. Austin Prabhu wore Indian costume with peta on his head which attracted many attendees. Hospitality rooms were closed around 1:00 a.m. Hospitality rooms were judged on Friday and Saturday nights by an independent selected panel in which The Forest Kala Sampath Lions Club Hospitality Room for Dr. Austin Prabhu received third prize.
Sunday started with District Voting for their officers. Breakfast was served for the Third Plenary Session. Very attractive Lions Memorial Service was held by District Chaplain Catherine Rondinelli. Terry D’Souza read the reading during the program. Slides of the departed lions were shown with photographs on the large screen. District Song Leader John Coleman sang the hymns for Memorial Service.
95 years old visually & hearing impaired and who cannot speak was awarded Richard J. Daley Citizen of the Year Award for her dedication to visually impaired people at the Hadley School for the Blind since 35 years. Recipient Geraldine has a college degree, wrote several books, a singer, dancer and a piano player. Her personal assistant was communicating with Geraldine by moving her fingers on her palm. Audience was thrilled to see this interaction and a living legend Geraldine. Many people couldn’t believe her achievements.
District Governor Wes Salsbury gave his State of the District address and thanked all lions for their support in making his programs a successful ones throughout the year. Election results were announced and the following officers were declared winners: Steve Anton for International Director Candidate, Catherine Rondinelli for Lions of Illinois Trustee, Dave Hansen for Vice District Governor and Dr. Austin Prabhu for District Governor for the year 2012-2013. All winners thanked the delegates for their votes. Dr. Austin Prabhu created a new record in Mother District of Lionism by winning for the second time in the history of the district since 1917 as District Governor. He thanked his wife Terry and children Anita, Anil, Atina and Angel for their support in his successful mission as a lion. He declared his next year’s theme as a Governor – “Nothing is Impossible, Keep Lionism Alive.” He said that we can do anything and everything if we have the willingness to succeed with a clear mission. He gave Geraldine’s example and said that if a physically challenged person can do so much, why we fully gifted people cannot do such things? Let us work as a TEAM and see the success as a bright star on the sky he continued.
Convention was closed with a cash raffle with a first prize of $10,000 for the winner. After the plenary session, participants met in The Forest Kala Sampath Hospitality Room by greeting and meeting winning officers. Kala Sampath members entertained the visitors with cake, cookies, soda and drinks.