Lion April 2013 : Page 44

USA/Canada Lions Leadership Forum: Follow the Leadership Road to Your Dreams by Pamela Mohr It’s no wonder that Dorothy so fervently clicked the heels of her ruby slippers together trying to return home to Kansas after landing in Oz. The Emerald City may be a nice place to visit, but it can’t beat Kansas. Luckily for Lions, they don’t have to follow the yellow brick road to reach the 37th USA/Canada Lions Lead-ership Forum (www.usacanadalionsforum.org) in Overland Park on Sept. 19 to 21. Set nearly in the very middle of the United States, all roads lead to Overland Park. This year’s forum destination offers everything that Dorothy, or any Lion, could ever want. If you drive, parking is free at all Overland Park forum hotels and the Overland Park Convention Cen-ter hosting the three-day event. Some flights are direct to the Kansas City International Airport, and for train buffs, the entire region is a national railway hub. The Kansas City Southern line, established in 1887 and headquartered in Kansas City, operates throughout the central part of the country. For RV travelers, there’s also the Rutlader Outpost RV Park (www.rutladerout post.com). Built to resemble an Old West town, the pet-friendly Rutlader’s is near a state park on the Kansas/Missouri border. No matter how you arrive in Overland Park, be sure to bring the family for some forum fun in America’s heartland. More than 2.3 million people visit every year to experience its abundance of fine shopping, dining, Overland Park will host the 37th USA/Canada Leadership Forum.

USA/Canada Forum Beckons

Pamela Mohr

<br /> Follow the Leadership Road to Your Dreams<br /> <br /> It’s no wonder that Dorothy so fervently clicked the heels of her ruby slippers together trying to return home to Kansas after landing in Oz. The Emerald City may be a nice place to visit, but it can’t beat Kansas.<br /> <br /> Luckily for Lions, they don’t have to follow the yellow brick road to reach the 37th USA/Canada Lions Leadership Forum (www.usacanadalionsforum.org) in Overland Park on Sept. 19 to 21. Set nearly in the very middle of the United States, all roads lead to Overland Park. This year’s forum destination offers everything that Dorothy, or any Lion, could ever want.<br /> <br /> If you drive, parking is free at all Overland Park forum hotels and the Overland Park Convention Center hosting the three-day event. Some flights are direct to the Kansas City International Airport, and for train buffs, the entire region is a national railway hub. The Kansas City Southern line, established in 1887 and headquartered in Kansas City, operates throughout the central part of the country. For RV travelers, there’s also the Rutlader Outpost RV Park (www.rutladeroutpost.com). Built to resemble an Old West town, the pet-friendly Rutlader’s is near a state park on the Kansas/Missouri border.<br /> <br /> No matter how you arrive in Overland Park, be sure to bring the family for some forum fun in America’s heartland. More than 2.3 million people visit every year to experience its abundance of fine shopping, dining, attractions and 15-minute proximity to downtown Kansas City. Overland Park is so popular, in fact, that it was named the top Favorite Kansas City Area Destination in last year’s Visitors' Choice Awards.<br /> <br /> The 237,000-square-foot Overland Park Convention Center will be hosting the 2013 forum, “Follow the Leadership Road to Your Dreams.” It promises many new and exciting features for the expected 2,000 attendees, says Chairperson and Past International Director Doug Lozier of Indianapolis, Indiana.<br /> <br /> “We are taking advantage of new technology in presentations and plan shorter seminars and keynotes,” he points out. Lozier has attended 26 forums previously. “I attend to ‘recharge my batteries,’ ” he explains. “I leave motivated to accomplish more and become inspired to be a better person and a better Lion.”<br /> <br /> There will be more than 60 seminars, four professional speakers and a dynamic luncheon presentation from current First Vice President Barry Palmer of Australia about his 2013-14 presidential program. Honorary Chairperson, Second Vice President Joe Preston of Dewey, Arizona, explains that while leadership development is the forum’s focus, “It doesn’t touch on how much fun the forum is, the networking that goes on, the friendships that are made or renewed, and just how impactful the three days of the forum can be.”<br /> <br /> Take the “Bring One” challenge. Lions who bring a “first-timer” to the forum will receive a special pin bearing the word “Mentor.” New attendees should provide the names of those Lions who invited them on their registration form in order for the mentor to receive credit. There’s also a “First Timers” orientation session on Thursday for newcomers.<br /> <br /> Visit Downtown Overland Park<br /> <br /> Historic Downtown Overland Park has an abundance of small town charm for this big city of 175,000. Steam trolleys used to ferry shoppers around, but nearly a century later, the 25-block downtown radius boasts a vibrant shopping and restaurant district featuring over 300 locally owned and operated venues. Located just off Metcalf between 78th and 83rd streets, this shopping and entertainment district is a designated “Main Street” city.<br /> <br /> There are more than 250 restaurants in Overland Park alone, including dozens of barbecues and brewpubs. No visit to Kansas is complete without trying its barbecue. Chicken, pork or beef—slow-cooked and slathered in sauce or simply seasoned—is a signature dish. Try the great Jack Stack Barbecue; one of it four locations is conveniently located in Overland Park on Metcalf Avenue.<br /> <br /> Gates Bar-B-Q, one of Kansas City’s best known, has several locations in the metro area. Like many other BBQ restaurants, it bottles up its sauce and seasonings for sale to patrons who want to bring home a taste of KC. Visitors can enjoy a whole spectrum of dining choices, from cheap eats to the expensive J. Gilbert’s for steak and seafood.<br /> <br /> There are many restaurants that offer lighter fare, such as the UrbanSpoon.com-recommended Shahrazad Café (also on Metcalf Avenue), or Elsa’s Ethiopian Restaurant. Both feature medium-priced vegetarian, vegan and international cuisine. Just like in any big metropolitan region, you can find any meal to suit your taste, dietary needs or budget.<br /> <br /> Downtown you’ll find several art galleries, antique shops, boutiques and intriguing specialty shops. This area is a foodie’s paradise with its eclectic array of cafes, coffee shops and restaurants. If you like to cook, step into the splendidly scented air of Penzey’s Spices or the Tasteful Olive, specializing in a global assortment of olive oils and vinegars.<br /> <br /> Outside the downtown district, you’ll find numerous shopping malls that if combined would offer miles of shopping adventure. Oak Park Mall, an indoor shopping mall with 185 stores, Town Center Plaza, Hawthorne Plaza and Corbin Park are just a few.<br /> <br /> If you have a bigger appetite for art than barbecue, visit the nationally recognized Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art at the Johnson County Community College. You may not even have to leave the Overland Park Convention Center, however, if you want to set eyes on beautiful works of art. More than 60 regional artists, some of whom have exhibited at the Smithsonian Museum and the Museum of Fine Art in Boston, display their creations there. Prepare to be dazzled by the amazing, rainbow-hued, 30-foot blown glass chandelier created by artist Vernon Brejcha that dangles from the atrium ceiling.<br /> <br /> Visit the forum’s website to learn more and register for an exciting adventure following the Lions leadership road to Overland Park. You’ll leave the forum enlightened, entertained and energized as a Lion. Just as Dorothy loved Kansas, so will Lions. Leave the ruby slippers at home, though. Once you visit, you won’t want to leave.

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