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Lions’ feast of fish benefits Southeastern Guide Dogs

By Staff | Jan 31, 2011

At Saturday's Lions Club Fish Fry were, from left, Jim Graham, Barry Roth and Judie Zimomra.

The Sanibel Captiva Lions Club Fish Fry held on Sanibel on Saturday, Jan. 29 drew almost 600 happy diners, approximately twice last year’s number of attendees.

Held at the Sanibel Community House, the event featured fresh, fried fish, cheese grits, baked beans, coleslaw, refreshing beverages and apple pie. Even carry-out was available. There was an $8 suggested donation for adults and children under five were admitted for free.

All proceeds from the event will benefit Southeastern Guide Dogs, and on Feb. 16, the Lions plan to present them with a check with the funds raised from both Fish Fry events.

Southeastern Guide Dogs is raising money to add an eye examination room at their training facilities where they will be able to pre-screen their puppies in training. The dogs begin their careers as guides from the time they are born and it takes approximately two years before they are ready to be matched with an owner.

Excellent vision is a prerequisite for a guide dog and Southeastern wants to pre-screen their puppies before they enter training. It costs approximately $60,000 to produce and support a guide dog throughout its career. It is devastating to find that a dog, excellent in all other ways, has a sight defect that affects its ability to meet the exacting standards needed in a guide dog. The new pre-screening room, which will cost approximately $48,000, will be named in honor of the Lions Club and the Lions Club International.

Southeastern Guide Dogs provides skilled guide dogs to visually impaired individuals. Currently serving more than 800 active guide dog teams, they also provide additional training to civilians and veterans.

“We want to thank the community and our sponsors for making this event such a huge success. We had an overwhelmingly positive response from our guests,” said Tom Hoover, The Sanibel Captiva Lions Club’s president. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the turnout and how the Lions stepped up to handle a line that stretched all the way out to the street throughout most of the event.”

Notable guests and servers were the honorary Lioness Judie Zimomra, Honorary Lion Barry Roth and Lion Francis Bailey. Honorary Chef Dane Johnson cooked all the fish for the event. The Southeastern Guide Dogs were represented by Roy Kennedy who is the area coordinator for puppy raising services. He attended the event with some puppies in training.

The Fish Fry’s title sponsor is Bailey’s General Store. Other sponsors include Barefoot Charley’s Painting Co., Island Graphics, Island Pharmacy, Lily & Company Jewelers, Sanibel Air Conditioning, Sanibel-Captiva Community Bank, Sanctuary Island Electric and Wayne Wiles Floor Coverings.