LIONS CLUBS INTERNATIONAL FLOAT
WINS "TOURNAMENT SPECIAL TROPHY"
This is an open THANK YOU to all Lions, Leos, guests of Lions, and other volunteers that spent many hours decorating the "Lions Built Matteo's Dream" float. The 125th Rose Parade theme was "Dreams Come True" and the Lions Clubs International float won the "Tournament Special Trophy" presented for "exceptional merit in multiple classifications."
I want to commend and THANK all the members of Lions Float, Inc. TEAM for their year-long efforts in overseeing the design, building, decorating and fundraising in putting this year's float on Colorado Blvd.
A special THANK YOU and deep appreciation to District Governor 4-C3 Denny Grotrain, Past District Governor Bill Ridle, and all the lions, leos, and volunteers in the district that made Matteo's Dream a reality that depicts what Lions do every day for humanity.
With Deep Appreciation to all,
PDG Norm MacKenzie
President, Lions Float, Inc.
Building Mateo's Dream; A Park for Children of All Abilities
René Henderson and Liz Lamach of Concord, Calif., have a reason to smile during a difficult time. An inclusive playground for children of all abilities built in honor of their deceased son, Matteo, will be a float design in the 125th Annual Tournament of Roses Parade.
"Since Matteo's passing, it's been kind of bleak and dark," Lamach said of her son who passed away in 2011. "This is a ray of light. It kind of opened a door that has been closed for a while."
Matteo was blind and suffered from cerebral palsy. He was the inspiration for a "Matteo's Dream," a city playground built for disabled children in 2007.
Lions Help Make Matteo's Dream Come True
Lamach wanted a playground where Matteo could play shoulder to shoulder with other children. She enlisted design firm Leather & Associates and local Lions clubs to make the dream a reality.
"I insisted on rubber surfaces, which was unheard of because most designs had gravel or sand," said Lamach of her quest to design a practical park. "I was warned of the cost and that it would delay the opening. But I told them I would rather wait a year and be able to do it right."
The playground made headlines in the Bay area for being one of the first inclusive parks in the region and also because the community built it in eight days.
"This would not have happened without the Lions," said Lamach. "There would be no Matteo's Dream without the Lions club."
Lions raised $750,000 to help build the park.
More than 3,000 volunteers erected the 12,000 square-foot playground. Many of the volunteers were members of the 45 Lions clubs in the region.
"It was like a barn raising, when the whole community would come together to help a neighbor build a barn," said Concord Director of Parks and Recreation Joan Carrico. "It is very rare in that you get to see something like that in your career. It was just very special."
Carrico considers Matteo's Dream to be a destination park and said people still occasionally call or write to her office about how much they appreciate a park where kids of all abilities can play. In fact, according to Carrico, the park is so popular the most frequent calls they receive are to reserve spots for parties.
"I have to remind people that it's a public park and it's first come, first served," she said.
Inclusive parks catering to children of all abilities are not common. But Matteo's Dream is an example of the growing need for more inclusive parks.
"It was definitely a new way to experience play together," said Amanda Baker, who drove two hours to visit Matteo's dream with her family so her 3-year-old daughter, Tatum, could play with her siblings.
Baker, who will be cutting the ribbon on an inclusive park in her city this week, took 20 family members to Matteo's Dream.
"All of the kids were so exhausted," she said of their first trip in February, which was filmed to help them raise money for their park. "They were emotionally and physically spent."
The video shows Tatum laughing and moving around the park on her wheelchair while playing with her siblings and cousins. The smile on her face alone, shows the importance of inclusive parks.
Baker was excited to hear Matteo's Dream would be honored as a float in the Rose Parade.
Lions Clubs International President Barry Palmer has challenged Lions all over the world to dream big and take on projects that turn the impossible into possible. Lions felt Matteo's Dream was a perfect fit for this year's Tournament of Roses theme – Dreams Come True.
"It's just an incredible honor," said Matteo's mother René Henderson who was laughing and crying at the same time when she found out about the float with Lamach. "I was touched more than I can say."
Next week, the Lions Clubs will be hosting a maintenance and clean-up day for Matteo's Dream. Lamach and Henderson will be there as both have joined the Concord Lions Club.
Both Lamach and Henderson will be traveling to Los Angeles a few days after Christmas. On December 30, they will join with other Lions Clubs to help decorate the float.
On Jan. 1, 2014, they will ride the float together wearing shirts with Matteo's photo on it.
Lions Clubs International, based in Oak Brook, Ill., is the largest service organization in the world with over 1.35 million members in more than 200 countries. They provide worldwide eyesight conservation, and work to eliminate preventable blindness and to aid the blind and visually impaired.
City of Concord Press Release
Please go to LCI's website and view information.
Also visit link to Concord's web site.
International President's Visitation Schedule
Lions first displayed a float in the 1948 Rose Parade. Since 1992 Lions Clubs International has continuously presented a float in the New Year's Day Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. The parade is viewed by an estimated 400 million people in 85 countries around the world. The production price for the Lions float is a tiny fraction of the cost of purchasing television advertising of this magnitude. It serves as a message to the world that Lions are people who serve others.
Each year LCI's President and 1st Lady ride the float in the parade. Television commentary ( 2013 Parade Video ) will once again highlight Lions' service and note the presence of these special units. There will also be four additional places on the float allowing seating for those who choose to purchase a "Ride of Your Life" Package.
Lions Float, Inc Is a Support Group
Since 1994 Lions Float, Inc., a non-profit corporation, has taken charge of directing preparations and funding of the annual float. This year-round activity involves float design, fundraising and organizing and directing volunteers who work on the float decorations. In many cases these volunteers are composed of youth from our Leo clubs. And each year the International President and spouse add at least a few flowers during their visit.
Lions Float Inc. History
In 1992, under the leadership of then International President Donald E. Banker of Rolling Hills CA, Lions Clubs International entered its first float in the New Year's Day Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena and has continued every year since that time.
Two of our Lions entries (1993 and 1994) won awards for the most beautiful float in our category. However, we believe all our entries are winners since they present Lions with an opportunity to promote our service activities to people worldwide who watch the parade and see our float each year.
Lions Float, Inc., a non-profit corporation, was formed in 1994 to direct the preparation and funding of the Lions float in the Rose Parade. This is a year-round activity involving the designing, fundraising and coordinating of volunteer decoration of the float in December. To raise these funds, Lions Float, Inc. sells a variety of commemorative items such as pins, shirts, license plate frames, sun shades, antenna balls and hats and offers fellowships for donations honoring PIP Banker and others.
We welcome the support of Lions all over the world in supporting and decorating the float. What a better way to promote Lionism than to be represented in this widely publicized international parade. Lions International is the largest service organization in the world. We want the world to hear us ROAR!