Ironton Lions give gift that truly keeps on giving

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 29, 2004

To some, neither fancy jewelry, nor expensive clothes or even sporty cars can compare with the gift that the Ironton Lion club have given to one individual: The gift of independence.

After spending countless hours in the summer and fall gearing up for their biggest fund-raiser, the annual Haunted Tunnel, the Lions Club saw their efforts pay off last week when they sponsored a pilot dog that will benefit someone who is visually impaired.

The Lions raised more than $15,000 but gave half off it to Pilot Dogs Inc. of Columbus for what all invovled called a "tremendosus cause."

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"It was a very humbling experience to see what we take for granted," said club president Lou Pyles. "It makes all the hard work worth it. It was all worth it -the

freezing cold, the rushing around, long hours - it was all worth it to know we gave someone their independence back."

Pat Dischom knows first-hand what a pilot dog means. The blind woman has taken advantage of several dogs over the years and brought her newest, a Doberman named Garnet, to show the club how important it truly is.

"It was really awesome to see her, to see her with the dog," Pyles said. "(Dischom) said she would much rather have the dog as a companion than the cane."

Jay Gray, executive director of Pilot Dogs, said the involvement of civic groups like this is tremendously important, though it is impossible to put into words how much a pilot dog can change someone's life.

"To put a certain label on it, is really tough," he said. "It means so much to each person. There is also the companionship factor. People like to have the dog there to talk to and pet and just have a friend."

The dog the Lions will sponsor will go to someone in need as close to Lawrence County as possible, Gray said.