Saturday, February 23, 2013
The Hotel at Kirkwood Center Ballroom, Kirkwood Community College, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

I am very pleased and honored to join you at this inaugural Iowa Lions Foundation Gala. What a wonderful way to celebrate—and enhance—the generosity and service of this remarkable group.

The Lions Clubs of Iowa, the Iowa Lions Foundation, and the University of Iowa have long been partners in doing all we can to make life better for others. The Lions’ support for so many wonderful organizations and causes throughout our state focusing on vision, hearing, and disabilities is inspirational and humbling. On behalf of the University of Iowa, I thank you especially for the many ways you have shown your big hearts in support of the research and care that we provide. These include the Iowa KidSight program, which offers early detection and treatment of vision impairment in Iowa’s children; the Cochelar Implant Center, which advances the legacy of the UI being the first in the United States to implant a multichannel cochlear implant system; and the Iowa Lions Eye Bank, which was founded in 1955 and proudly bears the Lions’ name.

For those of us with normal eyesight or hearing, we often take those senses for granted. On the one hand, they are senses that seem so ordinary and everyday to us. But on the other hand, they are extraordinary—they are among our most significant ways to perceive, understand, and interact with the world around us. There is little that is more profoundly important than that.

Among their many other activities, the Iowa Lions work tirelessly to make sure that as many people as possible are able to keep their eyes and ears healthy, or improve their impaired sight or hearing. The colors of a gorgeous sunset, the melody of a beautiful song, the inspiration of a famous painting, the laughter of a beloved child—these are all parts of the human experience that add so much richness to our lives. The Iowa Lions want as many people as possible to enjoy those life moments as fully as possible.

I thank the Iowa Lions Foundation for all they have done over the years in their support of the University of Iowa, and our vision and hearing programs in particular. The Iowa Lions Foundation is among the top annual givers to the UI Foundation, and thanks to that generosity, we are able to do so much more for so many people.

Lions Club founder Melvin Jones’ personal motto was “You can’t get very far until you start doing something for somebody else.”  That personal ethic is clearly the foundation of the Lions’ motto “We Serve.” You have served—and continue to serve—admirably, remarkably, and generously. I thank you again for inviting me to join you this evening and for this wonderful gala event. But most importantly, I thank you for making life better for so many Iowans through your contributions and your service.