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A special birthday for Stafford Lions Club
The Stafford County Lions Club will celebrate 50 years of community service with an anniversary dinner and dance next month.

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Date published: 3/27/2002

THE PASSAGE of 50 years
brings many changes to any

Officers come and go, members lose touch, meetings shift from restaurant to restaurant, and once-profitable fund-raisers gradually fall victim to changing times.

The Stafford County Lions Club has experienced all that and more.

Some things, however, have remained remarkably the same since the group was formed in the spring of 1952. A handful of the club's founding fathers are still members, and the original goal of community service remains alive and well.

The Stafford Lions will celebrate 50 years of living up to their "We Serve" motto with a banquet and dance on Saturday, April 6, at the Holiday Inn Select at Central Park in Fredericksburg.

"It's been fun being a member all these years," said 80-year-old Dickey Ballard of Falmouth, who joined the group in 1959. "There have been a lot of good people involved and a lot of work helping the community."

Ballard said he wasn't surprised that the group has survived for 50 years, despite the fact that membership dwindled to just six Lions during the mid-'90s.

"We hoped it would last for a long time," he said. "We were down--but not out--there for a while. But now the club's making
a comeback.

"I always said my priorities were family first, church second and then the Lions."

Asked if he would be on hand for the 50th anniversary party, Ballard replied: "If the Lord's willing, I'll be there."

Invited guests for the banquet include members from about 70 Lions clubs in District 24-A, which consists of 11 counties and stretches from Westmoreland to Manassas and from Spotsylvania to Alexandria.

The 7 p.m. party also is open to the public. Music will be provided by the Fredericksburg Big Band, and a silent auction will benefit the Lions' sight-conservation efforts.

Providing help to the seeing- and hearing-impaired has been an important goal of Lions Clubs International since the 1920s. Other priorities are diabetes research and helping young people.

According to its Web site, Lions Clubs International is the world's largest charitable organization. It has 1.4 million members in more than 44,000 clubs in 183 countries.

But in Stafford, it all started with a meeting of 24 Lions on March 20, 1952, at the fire house in Falmouth.

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