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WE SERVE: Beach Lions roar into 60th year

January 30, 2013
By BOB PETCHER ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The Fort Myers Beach Lions Club celebrated its 60th year of service with an anniversary dinner at DiamondHead Beach Resort Saturday evening.

Nineteen past presidents attended the function as well as many other district dignitaries from the long-existing nonprofit organization. Lion Pete McCagg, a past president and past district governor, is the longest-standing living member from the Beach club and has served four terms as Beach Lions president, including his first term in 1956-57, which was two years after the local club was formed. Besides his two terms in the mid-50s, McCagg was president again in 1995-96 and 2010-11.

"Back in 1956, there was a young man who joined the Fort Myers Beach Lions Club," said Lion Fran Peters, a past president and daughter of McCagg. "Within six months, he was third vice president and stepped up to become president when the first and second vice presidents (declined) after Beach Lion "Doc" Wilson resigned. He had been a Lion for only 10 months."

Article Photos

Fort Myers Beach Lion Club members Patsy Dorsey, Diane Clifton, Fran Peters and Pete McCagg (l to r) were awarded International President’s Certificates of Appreciation in recognition of their distinguished achievements in fulfilling the mission of Lions Club International. The Beach Lions celebrated their 60th anniversary last Saturday.

McCagg, Lion Patsy Dorsey, Lion Diane Clifton and Lion Fran Peters were given International President's Certificates of Appreciation in recognition of their distinguished achievements in fulfilling the mission of Lions Club International. Lion Florida International Director Stacey Jones, the evening's keynote speaker, gave the four local club past presidents the service awards.

During his speech, Jones noted the Beach Lions began on Jan. 15, 1953. He showed an interest in hopefully coming back to Estero Island for the 55th annual Fort Myers Beach Lions Shrimp Festival in March.

"I really marvel at the history of this club," said Jones. "I am very proud of the work that this outstanding club continues to do. Our international president along with the executive committee and members of the international board of directors send their best regards to and congratulate you on your 60th anniversary."

Jones further complimented the Beach Lions on their milestone.

"Sixty years ago, a group of individuals got together and decided that they would give as much as they could to those who needed help. Today, we celebrate that momentous occasion. The Fort Myers Beach Lions Club became a world of service because they recognized there is a destiny that makes us all of our brothers' keeper.

Jones stated the international theme of success, wealth and abundance came from individuals who make up Lions Club International. He offered inspiring words to those attending.

"Improving the quality of life for others locally, nationally and globally is what Lionism is all about," said Jones. "And, no one exemplifies that more than the Fort Myers Beach Lions Club. Never doubt that a small group of dedicated, committed Lions can make a significant difference."

With a motto of "We Serve," the Beach Lions have been committed by returning 100 percent of all raised funds back to the community through many needed services.

Lions Clubs provide services such as eye glasses, eye surgeries, screening for glaucoma and diabetes, corneas for transplant, guide dogs for the blind and hearing dogs for the deaf, hearing aids for those in need, while giving support to eye and tissue banks, youth groups such as Girl and Boy Scout programs and youth drug prevention programs, which they also operate. They provide camps for the visually impaired, sponsor little league programs, participate in health fairs, provide adult training for drugs and services for senior citizens.

"When it comes to success and excellence, the choice is simple. Excellence means standing up for the ideas of Lionism and using your club for greater cause than yourself, so future Lions will know you played a significant role and made a difference," said Jones. "Success may involve talent, but excellence involves every member of this great club."

Jones extended a stimulating rhyme about the joys of volunteering.

"Remember, the more you give, the more you get. The more you live unselfishly, the more you live abundantly. The more of everything you share, the more you have to spare. For only what we give away, enriches us from day to day."

Both McCagg and Lion Club President Sheila Kelley presented Jones with the Helen Keller Award for his services as international director and for the many governmental seats he has held in a number of offices held within the organization since becoming a Lion in 1992.

"I am very privileged to share this with you," said McCagg.

Lion history

The name "Lions" stands for Liberty, Intelligence, Our Nation's Safety.

The International Association of Lions Clubs began in 1917, when 12 men spearheaded by insurance man Melvin Jones met in Chicago and voted the "Association of Lions Clubs" into existence. The association became "international" with the formation of the Windsor, Ontario, Canada Lions Club in 1920. There are now clubs in more than 170 countries and geographical areas worldwide.

The Beach Lions began in 1953. The Beach Lions are well known for their highly popular Shrimp Festival each year -55th annual this March- as well as the annual queen's dance and Shrimp Run that accompanies the event.

Each year, they offer "We Serve" scholarships. Cash awards for college or vocational educational assistance are given to local students who demonstrate ability, need and a solid record of community service.

The Lion's Scholarship Fund is a special Project of the Fort Myers Beach Lion's Foundation that was set up in 1993 and has been awarding local scholarships every year since. The Fund receives separate tax-deductible donations from the public and is augmented by proceeds from the Fort Myers Beach Lions Shrimp Festival the second weekend in March every year.

The Florida Lions Camp is a program that has been going strong since 1974.

Beach Lions provide much support to their private, nonprofit Lions camp that was established and dedicated to serving the needs of youth and adults with visual impairments and other challenging disabilities. The camp is considered to be one of the leading facilities of this type in the United States.

The goal of the camp is to enhance the quality of life for campers through a diversity of experiences as well as instill self-worth and independence for those who are visually or otherwise challenged.

Through this camp, the Beach Lions sponsor the Gulf Coast Charity Swim event.

The Beach Lions also hold a championship putt-putt tournament. All profits of the event that has been held for two years running at Jungle Golf have been donated towards sight assistance for students and other needs of the Beach Elementary School.

They have also offered a Fred Robinson Memorial Scholarship for the Arts.

More information can be found at



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