Toronto Convention Packed With Star Power Aussie Olivia Newton-John topped the charts with “Have You Never Been Mellow, “You’re the One I Want” and “Physical,” starred in the most successful movie musical of all time, “Grease,” and graced countless magazine covers and talk show couches as a top-tier celebrity. But she also publicly shared her battle with breast cancer and zealously promoted the importance of early detection, earning her the sympathy, attention and respect that transcend pop stardom. Newton-John will be the keynoter July 8 at the 97th In-ternational Convention in Toronto. She’ll sing, of course, as well as talk, entertaining and edifying, an apt represen-tation of what’s in store for the thousands of Lions world-wide who will descend on Canada’s largest city. The convention will be chock-full with top-flight en-tertainers, prestigious speakers and memorable moments. The three plenary sessions include Ruchira Gupta, an Indian woman who has crusaded against sex trafficking for a quarter of a century; and a group of Nepalese women who scaled Mt. Everest and plan to climb the highest peak on each continent. The fearless mountaineers encapsulate the “Follow Your Dream” ethos of International President Barry Palmer of Australia. Also appearing during a plenary will be 16-time Grammy winner David Foster, who will receive the 2014 Lions Humanitarian Award. Foster has created hit songs and best-selling albums for a wide range of entertainers. His eponymous foundation helps Canadian families with chil-dren in need of live-saving organ transplants. Prior winners include Andrea Bocelli, Muhammad Yunus, Mother Teresa, Jimmy Carter and Danny Thomas. (See story on Foster on page 8.) The quality of the entertainment will match the star power of the speakers. The first plenary session will open with singers and dancers performing to a medley of “dream” songs. Catapult Entertainment, shadow dancers whose silhouettes conjure iconic places and common human experiences, begins the second plenary. Appearing at a plenary, too, is the riveting China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe, hailed as “messengers of beauty and humanity.” 36 LION APRIL 2014 Hitmaker Neil Sedaka will headline the International Show. Sedaka has been a star for 50 years: a pop sensation in the ‘50s, a songwriter in the ‘60s who helped usher in the “Brill Building” sound, a superstar in the ‘70s and a musi-cal icon since then who tours worldwide. His hits include “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,” “Laughter in the Rain” and “Bad Blood.” However mesmerizing, the entertainment is an appe-tizer of sorts for the main course of convention–Lions in ac-tion and at ease in fellowship. Lions mingle and meet at lunches, the exhibit hall and impromptu, never-forgotten encounters at hotels, restaurants and on the street. Atten-dees vote on the association’s future, pick up valuable tips and pointers on service, recruiting and leadership at semi-nars, and, in a glorious show of the reach of Lions, march together by the thousands in the Parade of Nations. The mammoth yet attractive Metro Toronto Conven-tion Centre, the site of LCI’s exhibit hall, is an attraction by itself. The Centre’s South Building includes enticing un-derground halls. At the exhibit hall Lions can chat with LCI staff and obtain information and strategies on member-ship, public relations and more. This year the convention is going green while upping the convenience factor at the same time. Select English-speaking attendees will carry a smart, customized USB stick that can support videos, brochures, seminar handouts and exhibitor information. Newton-John may be singing “let’s get physical,” but Lions will march to a different tune: “let’s get digital.” The pilot program may be expanded to include all languages for the convention in 2015 in Honolulu. Another convention highlight is the presence of the Peace Poster and Essay Contest winners. The contest win-ners are recognized during the first plenary, and a presen-tation and reception is held later. Lions always respond with affectionate gusto when the youthful winners in-evitably shyly stride across the stage. Where Lions gather, service happens, and attendees can take part in the Lions Care 2014 project to benefit YWCA Toronto, which provides shelter for women and children. Lions will be able to donate toiletries, public transportation tokens and gift cards at a designated area in the exhibit Watch a video of Neil Sedaka performing.