Maryville native receives Goodwill Ambassador award

By Kathryn Rice

Lori Harr Sheehan, Bird Island, MN, received the Goodwill Ambassador award at the Lions Club International convention held in Montreal, Canada in late June.

Sheehan, a graduate of Maryville High School, is the daughter of Dr. Pat and Teri Harr, Maryville. She is married to Brian Sheehan who begins his year, July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023, as Lions International President after serving as Vice President for three years.

Lions International has awarded 40 Goodwill Ambassador Awards worldwide for approximately 50 years. “Recipients of these awards have rendered distinguished and selfless service to the association in fulfilling its worldwide mission for the relief of human suffering, the betterment of human life, and the advancement of human understanding and goodwill among the peoples of the world.”

“As a gym owner and trainer, I work hard to help people develop and maintain healthy lifestyles,” Sheehan said. “My focus for my year as First Lady is my Lions in Motion program. I work with members around the world, encouraging them to develop fundraisers that involve walking, running, golfing, biking, etc. Anything that allows their members to move and have fun.

“Diabetes is one of our service lines, so we encourage Lions to provide diabetes education and screenings at these events. Fundraisers go to Lions Clubs International Foundation, which is our financial arm of the association. The foundation has awarded more than $1 billion to club projects, disaster relief funds, childhood cancer projects, vision programs, hunger relief and more.

“More recently, our foundation has provided relief funds to refugees and displaced people. We are actively working to help Ukrainians and neighboring countries, with medical supplies, housing, transport, food, etc.

The Sheehans, while serving as international president and first lady, will spend this year traveling and away from home for all but six days.

Lori Sheehan said, “We have Lions in over 200 countries, so we visit as many as we can, visit projects they have developed in their communities, and attend official events with our global partners.

“While the job takes us to meet Pope Francis, presidents and other dignitaries, our favorite part is just meeting our grassroots Lions and seeing the amazing things they are doing in our communities. They have a huge impact around the world and don’t always see the end result if it’s outside of their communities. I work hard to showcase the projects we see, on our social media accounts.

“I think it’s important for Lions to know the difference they make for so many people,” she said. “The need for humanitarian aid is greater than ever and continues to grow. I love that we are all volunteers, allowing 100% of donations made to go to these important projects.

“The things we see are sometimes very difficult. We delivered food to the slums of Kolkata, India, and Nairobi, Kenya. It is absolutely heartbreaking to see this depth of poverty. We have met members in Belgium who have opened their homes to Ukrainian refugees. Hearing their horrific escape experience, first hand, was very difficult. We have seen homes lost and cities destroyed by tornadoes, floods and hurricanes. I’m just grateful to know that our Lions have boots on the ground and are working to provide assistance however they can.

“We will continue to run our businesses, remotely, while travelling,” she said. “After this year, Brian will be president of the foundation for one year and will involve another busy year of travel.”

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