Across the world and closer to home, Lions’ members have long recognized that diabetes is an ongoing and serious health condition. Lions dream of the development of a cure and provide support to that end.
Each Lions District within Lions MD5M (Multiple District 5M) initially oversaw its own diabetes initiatives. Two representatives from each Minnesota Lions District and a MD5M Diabetes Chair, were responsible to meet a couple times a year to review district activities and inform district chairs about advances in diabetes research and education.
In 1987 Past Council Chair (PCC) Dick Risley and MD5M Council of Governors approved a partnership with the Park Nicollet’s International Diabetes Center (IDC). However, there was not Lions Multiple-District (MD5M) support of the partnership, and it was not supported by all Lions districts across Minnesota. Now a part of HealthPartners Institute, IDC continues to be a center for diabetes care, research, and education providing clinical, motivational, and educational services for people with diabetes.
The Council of Governors decided that there needed to be strategic changes in the MD5M Diabetes program. At the 2006 MD5M convention PCC Bill Bard was asked to lead the Chairmanship of MD5M’s Diabetes Committee.
By 2007 MD5M’s Council of Governors approved the concept of establishing a MD5M Lions Diabetes Foundation. The long-established Minnesota Lions Eye Bank (now Lions
Gift of Sight) and Minnesota Lions Hearing Foundation provided the organizing basis and operating documents for a Lions Diabetes Foundation.
The new Diabetes Foundation Constitution and By-Laws were drafted and brought to the MD5M Convention in May 2008. Establishment of a Minnesota Lions Diabetes Foundation (MLDF) was approved by convention delegates.
Minnesota Lions Diabetes Foundation was made up of two trustees from each Minnesota Lions district who were appointed by their District Governor. On August 8, 2008, the fledgling Foundation held its first meeting in St. Cloud, elected its first officers, formed committees. The new Foundation trustees began their tasks.
Though already a foundation at the MD5M level, MLDF applied for and received 501(c)(3) status. With that Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax-exempt designation, Minnesota Lions Diabetes Foundation, Inc. was recognized as a public charity and allowed to receive funds from donations, grants, gambling, and other resources.
Lions Clubs International also recognized Minnesota Lions Diabetes Foundation, Inc. and authorized the use of Lions International on its lapel pin. MLDF and the Park Nicollet Foundation worked an arrangement to wind down their collaboration. The first donation to MLDF was made by PDG Dan Snobl in honor of his mother.
MLDF is forever grateful for their leaders and champions. Their support paved the way for the formation of the Minnesota Lions Diabetes Foundation, Inc.
The first Executive Board members were:
President, Lion Tom Shinnick
Vice President, Lion Wally Sapp
Secretary, Lion Gary Hahn
Treasurer, Lion Marty Athmann
Executive Secretary, Lion Bill Bard
MD5M Council Chairman, Lion Bob Jechorek
District Governor Liaison, Lion Ken Kolding
MD5M Constitution & By-Laws Chairman, Lion Wayne Swanson.