The Lions Step In
In Indiana, the Zionsville Lions wanted to reach out to people with special needs and their families. With that in mind, they decided to open the gates to their annual Fall Festival early and invite some very important people to attend. “Kids just want to be themselves and know that they belong. And we’re going to make them feel that way,” says Phil Howard of the Zionsville Lions Club. “I have a son with Down syndrome, and he is excited about going on the rides with his friends. It is a very special evening.”
Fun for All
The VIP Carnival is the Friday night of the Zionsville annual Fall Festival.
There are lots of smiles. In addition to the rides, VIPs, ranging in age from toddlers to adults, enjoy a free dinner, petting zoo and magic show, plus the fire department mascot and other special guests attend. “We were able to come early and it seemed as if we were celebrating our son’s Down’s syndrome instead of it feeling like a hardship on us. It was a blessing to come when the crowds were low. He had so much fun and was able to share that with his little sister,” said Melissa Bowman.
“We left such an impression with them, but I think they left a bigger impression with us,” commented Leigh Ann Akard, Zionsville Lion.
The 125 Zionsville Lions Club members organize and run the three-day Fall Festival in Lions Park with crowds of approximately 20,000. More than 500 guests attend the VIP carnival, including several from other states. The club has received many heartfelt thank yous. And, the number of smiles is priceless.