Vian Lions Club Parade of Lights Grand Marshals    

Just who were the Grand Marshals for Thursday’s Parade of Lights?  The Vian Lions Club selected their very own Lion Tom Lewis as Grand Marshal in honor and celebration of his 30 plus years of membership in Lions Club International.  The club also recognized the contributions of the many Lewis family members who have been part of the greater Vian community since well before statehood as ranchers, sheriff, town trustee, mayor, and many businesses.  Representing the Barney Lewis branch and riding with Tom was Kenny Lewis, Tom’s cousin.  Kenny Lewis is a skilled carpenter, working for the state of Oklahoma currently at Tenkiller State Park.  Kenny is a Vian schools alumnus and is deeply connected to the area.  He is a veteran firefighter for the Blackgum Mountain Volunteer Fire Department and resides in the Box area. 

Before and after service in the US Army, young Tom Lewis settled in Barstow California, eventually owning several businesses including a restaurant, an ice manufacturing plant and a refrigerated trucking fleet to deliver the ice.  He joined Barstow Lions Club and became an extremely active member, serving on several club and district level offices.  Barstow Lions Club partners with several non-profit organizations, including the Guide Dogs of the Desert, an organization for training service dogs and their visually and/or hearing impaired future owners.

Attending the yearly 150 plus member Lewis Family Reunions kept Tom returning to Vian.  In 2009, feeling the pull of a quieter life style back ‘home’, he purchased a ranch in Pinhook Corners and turned over the day-to-day management of his businesses in Barstow to his son.   Lion Tom carried on his pattern of service to the community and transferred his membership to the Vian Lions.  The club is honored to have his membership, his leadership skills and near contagious enthusiasm of ‘can do’.  His infectious, positive attitude epitomizes the club motto of “We Serve” and we are grateful for and celebrate his 30 plus years of service.

Cornea Transplants for Vian Lions Club member

Each year, the Vian Lions Club participates in the statewide “Cowboy Cadillac” ticket sales to raise funds for the Oklahoma Lions Club Boys Ranch in Perry and the Oklahoma Lions Club Eye Bank in Oklahoma City.  Lions Clubs are known throughout the world for their particular emphasis for service for the visually impaired and physical conditions and diseases that affect vision.  This year, the very existence of the eye bank became personal.

In May 2011, a Vian Lions Club member joked with her friends that she would probably need a change in her prescription lenses or perhaps cataract surgery.  However, at her appointment, she received a surprise diagnosis that couldn’t be solved by a new prescription – Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy.  It’s a genetic disease of the eye that affects only 1 percent of people.  While some cases can initially be treated with eye drops, the only effective treatment is removal of the diseased cornea and transplant of a healthy cornea.   This is what happens to the eye.   

The cells in an inner layer of the cornea pump water out of the eye.  With Fuchs’ Corneal Dystrophy, the cornea fills up with water and swells as the cells start dying off.   The cornea is the “window” of the eye, and assimilates the light, so the more advanced the Fuchs’ dystrophy is, the blurrier and more indistinct the vision becomes.  As the disease progresses, there is increased swelling in the cornea due to the water building up.  Sometimes, the water builds up inside so much that it must explode out of the eye in the form of painful cornea blisters which lead to blindness. The only real cure for the disease is a cornea transplant.

Vian Lions Club members urged her to contact Janet King, the director of the Oklahoma Lions Eye Bank.  Ms. King referred her to Dr. Donald Stone, an ophthalmologist and surgeon at Dean McGee Institute in Oklahoma City.  Dr. Stone is the medical advisor and board member on the Oklahoma Lions Eye Bank.  In August, Dr. Stone performed a cornea transplant on her right eye, also removing a cataract.   The second similar surgery on the left eye was performed in October.  While the right eye still has some cloudiness, Dr. Stone expects it will subside within a year.  She has remarkable clear sight in her left eye.  Her November exam indicated no rejection for either transplant, and, equally important, no evidence of residual Fuchs’ disease.

Sharon DiGenerro states that she has better vision now without glasses that she could see with glasses before her surgeries.  The initial diagnosis was frightening but the professional staffs at Oklahoma Lions Eye Bank and Dean McGee provided her with the confidence to pursue the necessary surgeries.  Vian Lions Club members willingly provided her with encouragement, support, meals and transportation.  Lion Sharon is an active member of the club and looks forward to continuing her service with Lions and becoming a source of information to others who may be suffering the same condition.

Oklahoma Lions Service Foundation is currently fundraising for an improved facility for the Oklahoma Lions Eye Bank to expand and improve its services.  More information about Oklahoma Lions and the Oklahoma Lions Service Foundation can be found at the state’s website:


Sydney Russell - 2011 Bud Adams Scholarship

Vian Lions Club President Joe Haraway presented a $500 scholarship check to Sydney Russell as the 2011 Bud Adams Memorial scholarship recipient at the club’s 8-11 meeting.   Sydney will be attending NSU Tahlequah.   This annual award is presented in honor of Bud Adams, one of the charter members of the Vian Lions Club and an active proponent of service to help fill some of the needs of the children and youth of the Vian community.

July 14, 2011 Guest Speaker

Oklahoma State Representative John Bennett was our guest speaker at the club’s Thursday meeting. Representative Bennett understood the club’s concerns and reviewed several federal and state programs and procedures currently in place for cities and rural areas and the methodology for requesting grants for tornado warning siren systems. While the process is lengthy, the best course of action is working through the county emergency disaster management offices. The club is concerned about the lack of and the need for warning systems and shelters in western Sequoyah County


2011-2012 Officers Installed

Vian Lions Club installed new officers for the fiscal year 2011-2012. Lion Joe Haraway is the club's new president and Lion Nell Mathot is the club's new secretary starting 1 July 2011.  Our new Tail Twister is Tom Lewis!


Teddy Bear Project

Club members, with the assistance of several Cookson United Methodist Church members, constructed over 250 cloth teddy bears.  The bears were distributed to five local area hospital children's wards.  This is the club's second year on this project and a definite increase in bears!  Project chairs were Lion Carol Armstrong and Lion Maria Horowitz.


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