CHEYENNE – The Cheyenne Lions Club, the first affiliated club in Wyoming to survive, will celebrate its 100th anniversary Friday, June 5.
It is a member of the International Association of Lions Clubs, and the first of the three clubs to charter in Cheyenne – one with a rich history.
Lions Clubs International had its beginning in 1917, when a Chicago businessman, Melvin Jones, formed an organization known as the Lions Club. Its purpose was to improve communities with humanitarian service. It was an inspiring idea to many people, and Lions Clubs began to spread throughout the United States.
In 1925, Helen Keller addressed the Lions Clubs International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, and challenged Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.” Consequently, Lions Clubs International and the Cheyenne Lions started working on projects to aid those who were blind or visually impaired.
The first Lions Club in Cheyenne was formed in March 1918. They had some interesting projects that were documented in the local paper, and were involved in local politics and enhancements for the city, such as paving roads and mapping a scenic drive. The club called the scenic drive the Lions Trail.
The route led out of downtown Cheyenne, along Happy Jack Road to the Ames Monument. The club did not build the route, but helped to improve it by removing boulders and placing markers. For reasons unknown, after about six months of existence, the Lions Club members chose to disband the club and created the first Rotary Club in Cheyenne on Aug. 15, 1918.
Meanwhile, by 1920, the Association of Lions Clubs became an international organization when clubs began forming in Canada. The international headquarters in Chicago sent representatives throughout the United States and the world to form new clubs. One of those representatives arrived in Cheyenne in the spring of 1920. Local businessmen were persuaded to create a new Lions Club, and it was chartered on June 5, 1920.
The Cheyenne Lions Club has a long history of service. It has participated in or fostered numerous civic improvements in Cheyenne and throughout the state of Wyoming. In 1921, the Lions Club and the Rotary Club began planting trees and created a picnic area on land near Sloans Lake. The picnic area became known as Lions Park.
The club has continuously worked through the years to improve the park. In the early days, the Lions planted trees and flowers annually throughout the park. They also provided restrooms, a skating pond, the beach house and a softball field. In 1983, the club built the fitness trail. In 1994, the three Cheyenne Lions Clubs raised money and helped replace the equipment at the playground in the park.
Over the years, the Cheyenne Lions Club found new community projects and humanitarian endeavors. Also, for many years, the Cheyenne Lions Club has collected thousands of eyeglasses for recycling. The glasses go to refurbishing centers and are used on humanitarian missions to developing nations. The three Cheyenne Lions Clubs (including Frontier and Sunrise) jointly provide a Vision Fund that provides financial assistance to low income residents for eye exams and eyeglasses.
The Lions Club has also been involved in the developing the youth of Cheyenne. In 1933, the club became the sponsor of Boy Scout Troop 101. In 1998, the club became the sponsor of Boy Scout Crew 101 as well.
As the club grew in size, there was a need for additional Lions Clubs in Cheyenne. In 1964, the club sponsored the Frontier Lions Club, chartered June 26, 1964. In 1973, the Frontier Lions sponsored the Sunrise Club, chartered Dec. 14, 1973. While officially the club is still the Cheyenne Lions Club, to avoid confusion, since there are now three clubs, the club uses the name Cheyenne Noon Lions Club.
The Cheyenne (Noon) Lions Club continues to be very active in the community. It has fundraisers during the year to support its programs and service projects. Lions Clubs are caring groups of friends who get together and have fun while providing service to those in need. The Cheyenne Noon Lions partner with the other clubs in Cheyenne to provide financial assistance for people who need eye exams, eyeglasses and eye surgeries.
It has helped build houses with Habitat for Humanity. The club picks up trash in Lions Park and on the Greenway. In addition, the club supports and help maintain the Allen H. Stewart Lions Camp on Casper Mountain. The club’s projects are continually change to meet new needs and greater demands, but the mission has never wavered: “We Serve.”
• The Cheyenne (Noon) Lions meet the first Tuesday of each month at noon at the Lions Park Scout House.
• The Cheyenne Frontier Lions meet the first and third Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel.
• The Cheyenne Sunrise Lions meet the second and fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 a.m. at Little America Hotel.