Lion September 2013 : Page 40

Cindy Perseo entertains guests with “I’ll Fly Away” on Lions Appreciation Day. Actually, she keeps flying back: she has been coming to Beacon Lodge Camp since 1972. Her husband, John, now comes with her.

Singing Thanks

He answers to Bob. But he likes it even better when you call him “Piano Man.” Bob Waker has been coming to the Pennsylvania Lions Beacon Lodge Camp since 1958, just a decade after Lions founded the camp in the central part of the state. The camp hosts stays for people with blindness, deafness and other disabilities. Waker, who is blind, tickled the ivories at the most recent Lions Appreciation Day.

“He’s fantastic,” says Past Council Chair Jim Day, one of more than 400 Lions from Pennsylvania who attended the annual event. Lions support the camp, situated on 583 gorgeous acres, with donations and elbow grease. The work weekends keep the camp in good shape. The camp is a touchstone for Lions of Pennsylvania. “There are a couple of things you want to do in your life as a Lion here: go to Beacon Lodge and to Leader Dogs [in Michigan],” says Day.

Camps are high-spirited days filled with friendships and fun; many campers, like Waker, eagerly return year after year. The talent show is a way for campers to say thanks, not in an awkward, forced, prearranged encounter but in a full-throated, public forum.

“I really appreciate it,” says Day. “It takes a lot of courage. I couldn’t do it.” Adds Amanda Corbin, camp coordinator, “The talent of our campers is amazing.”

Lions being Lions, even the appreciation day is a time of service with a basket raffle, a duck race and a dunk tank. But what lingers in memory are the campers’ performances, a nice twist. Recipients of kindness bestow gifts that waft through the summer air and burrow into the heart. Music bridges gaps, cements bonds and blurs distinctions. Week after week Lions embrace the camp, and then on a special day campers embrace them with songs and smiles.

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