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Brainerd Lions Club to celebration 100th anniversary

This weekend’s social event is set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. near the splash pad in Memorial Park and will include a free meal of hot dogs, chips and drinks; tents with nonprofits; and games hosted by the club’s Leos, who are members ages 12-18.

Kids get a drink from the lion water fountain.
Alivia Magnan lifts Aftan Mang to get a drink from the lion water fountain Wednesday, July 6, 2022, while taking a break from playing at the splash pad at Memorial Park in Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — Food, games and camaraderie are planned to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Brainerd Lions Club Saturday, July 16, at Memorial Park in Brainerd.

The club turned 100 in 2021 but held off on a celebration because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This weekend’s social event is set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. near the splash pad in Memorial Park and will include a free meal of hot dogs, chips and drinks; tents with nonprofits; and games hosted by the club’s Leos, who are members ages 12-18.

Founded in 1921, the Brainerd Lions Club is one of the oldest in Minnesota and is part of the world’s largest service organization. As of January 2020, there were more than 46,000 Lions Clubs throughout the world with over 1.4 million members in more than 200 countries.

Locally, the roughly 30 members of the Brainerd chapter host several yearly events and donate the proceeds to various charities and organizations.

Two yearly northern pike fishing contests raise money for the Brainerd/Baxter youth center TheShop and for those in the area who need financial assistance securing or taking care of service dogs. The contests also benefit the lakes themselves.

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“Big northern pike used to be plentiful, and our lakes are getting overrun with these little ones,” Lions Club President Mike LaFlex said. “So I came up with the idea of these fishing contests, and I met with the DNR, and they’re, ‘Yup, we’d like to see it on this lake and this lake and this lake.’”

A special account from annual events funds glasses for students in the area who need them but cannot afford them and services at Thrive Vision Therapy in Little Falls, which offers therapy for kids whose vision inhibits their reading abilities.

The annual Spaghetti Dinner with Santa each December offers dinner and visits with Santa Claus and benefits various local organizations, including food shelves.

The Brainerd Lions Club also awards $1,000 scholarships to 10 each year, five to Brainerd High School seniors, and five to current college students from the area.

Members help out with Ski Loons waterskiing shows in the summer and are now working to raise money for accessible playground equipment at Buffalo Hills/Lions Park in south Brainerd.

“Wherever there’s need, there’s Lions,” LaFlex said.

LaFlex said it’s amazing to be a part of an organization like the Lions Club and to see new chapters popping up in small towns all over the area.

With about a dozen active members, LaFlex said the club is always looking for new members. Applications will be available at Saturday’s event. Those interested can also visit bit.ly/3PxVplX for more information. The club meets at 5:30 p.m. the second and fourth Mondays of each month at the Brainerd American Legion.

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“If you feel a need to give back to the community, then we would love to have you,” LaFlex said. “We’d love to have your ideas for something new. Everybody has ideas and dreams that they would like to do, and joining a club like this, it gives you the people and resources to do it.”

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa .

Related Topics: BRAINERDNONPROFITS
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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