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Lions Club serves up first benefit pancake breakfast

By Staff | Apr 9, 2009

For the first time in their long history on the island, members of the Sanibel-Captiva Lions Club hosted a pancake breakfast fundraiser on April 3, drawing hundreds of hungry residents and visitors to the Sanibel Community Center.

“This is fun, but the only thing is that I wish it would rain,” joked John Mannix, who was tending to the pancake griddle located outside the kitchen door of the facility. “These things are cooking pretty fast. Almost as soon as you put the batter on, you’ve got to flip them.”

Fellow hotcake flipper Carl Maier, a San-Cap Lions Club member for the past five years, said that he had quickly lost count of how many flapjacks he had already made that morning.

“Three row or three pancakes… that’s nine at a time,” he added. “I dunno… maybe 300 by now.”

Tom Hoover of the Sanibel-Captiva Lions explained that the local club has always supported the Florida Lions Camp, based in Lake Wales. But this year, they decided to “step up” their support and stage a special fundraising event specifically for the camp.

“We came up with a couple of ideas, including a hog roast, but we eventually settled on a pancake breakfast,” said Hoover. “We thought that the idea was pretty good, and we really wanted to do something extra for the camp this year.”

Established in 1974, Florida Lions Camp is a private, non-profit camp established and dedicated to serving the needs of youth and adults with visual impairments and other challenging disabilities. All individuals, five years of age or older, are eligible to attend the camp, whose activities include swimming, canoeing, fishing, hiking and haywagon rides.

“Our goal is to enhance the quality of life for our campers through a diversity of experiences and instill self-worth and independence for those who are visually or otherwise challenged,” the camp’s Web site (www.lionscampfl.org) states.

“What this fundraiser allows us to do, especially in this economy, is bring more campers this summer,” said Rob Cage, director of Florida Lions Camp. “The more money that’s raised, the more kids that will enjoy our camp.”

Cage also noted that of all the Lions Clubs in the state, more support for the camp comes from the Southwest Florida region, especially from clubs located in Sanibel-Captiva, Fort Myers Beach and North Fort Myers.

In attendance at the breakfast was Sanibel resident Gil Gilinsky, who brought his grandchildren Blake and Brynell Yount, on vacation from Centennial, Colo.

“I had heard this was going to be such a good breakfast… and it sure is,” said Gilinsky. “I’ve alway supported the Lions Club, and my grandkids wanted to see what Florida pancakes tasted like.”

Sanibel Mayor Mick Denham said that he enjoyed his breakfast, adding, “This is a great community event that hopefully will continue to grow over the years, like the Kiwanis Club breakfast. But maybe that’s wishful thinking.”

Another city leader and Lions Club member, Les Forney, was stationed at the food line, serving sausages and bacon – provided by Bailey’s General Store – to a steady stream of hungry residents and tourists.

“Today’s been great. We’ve met a lot of nice folks here to support a great cause,” he said.

Gerry Wilson of Massachusetts and John Esworthy of New Jersey both said that they came to the pancake breakfast because they were longtime Lions supporters.

“Wherever we go, we like to support the Lions Clubs,” said Wilson. “I like them because they do great work with seeing-eye dogs and (John) likes them for the bingo games.”