Larry Bagley, who has served previously as president of the Guntersville Lions Club, has moved on up in the organization. He is now the Lions District Governor, seeing after all the Lions clubs in the North Alabama district.

District governors are inducted into their office each year at the Lions International Convention.

Larry’s induction took place at the convention in Milan, Italy, of all places.

Larry and his wife Donna traveled to Italy in early July and spent 10 days in the country.

“We flew from Atlanta to Miami, then to Madrid, Spain, and then on to Milan,” Larry said.

They’d traveled to Europe previously, with stops in Germany, Austria and other places but this was their first ever visit to Italy. They have family in Greece and have also visited there previously.

“This was a good opportunity for us to see another country,” Larry said. “Italy is beautiful. It’s a very pretty place.”

The Lion convention included a “Parade of Nations,” where 10,000 Lions from 125 different nations flooded a street for a parade. Larry had walked in the parade at the 100th Lions Convention in Chicago and was content to be a spectator at this one.

Many of the Lions, especially the Africans, were dressed in the native garb of their country. Donna got her photo made with some of them.

The keynote speaker for the Lions convention was former UK prime minister Tony Blair.

“I really wanted to hear him and he was just as good as I thought he would be,” Larry said.

Another speaker he enjoyed was Bertrand Piccard, famous for his “Achieve the Impossible” talks. One of his recommendations for solving a problem is to ask a 5-year-old.

“Their imagination for solving problems isn’t limited like we adults can be limited in our thinking,” Larry said.

Piccard’s achieving the impossible came in being part of the Solar Impulse team, the first team to circumnavigate the globe in a solar powered airplane.

“They flew 26,000 miles, averaging a little more than 45 miles per hour,” Larry said.

Larry knows a little about achieving the impossible himself, albeit in a different way. When he became president of the Guntersville Lions, the club had just 8 members. He shepherded the growth of the club to 48 members.

He has since developed a program he shares with other Lion leaders called “From 8 to 48.”

As District Governor, Larry is in charge of 46 clubs in the northern third of the state. He was district vice governor before moving to the top spot and has already visited many of the clubs and will continue to visit them.

Lions International has 5 areas of outreach and the Guntersville Club’s projects have touched on all of them and continue to touch on all of them. Those focus areas are:

1. Vision conservation, a longtime focus of the Lions. They collect eyeglasses and help people who can’t afford eye exams to get them. They also do some vision testing of children in the schools.

2. Diabetes education. The Guntersville Lions have hosted numerous diabetes lunch-n-learns. They also recently provided a number of mirrors to the Marshall Medical system to give to new diabetes patients to help them regularly check their feet. Foot injuries can be devastating to a diabetic and can lead to an amputation.

3. Pediatric cancer. The Guntersville Lions recently provided Lions figurines to young cancer patients, encouraging them to have the courage of a lion in their fight against the disease.

4. The environment. The Guntersville club’s “legacy project” marking 100 years of Lions International was building the outdoor classroom adjacent to the Nature Center at Lake Guntersville State Park. It’s used weekly for nature programs.

5. Hunger. The Guntersville Lions have participated in a seed distribution program to encourage people on limited incomes to grow some of their own food.

The Guntersville Lions meet the 2nd and 4th Tuesday night of each month at 6 p.m. at the Wyndham. Both male and females are welcome as members and they love to have visitors who might consider becoming members. Lions International is stressing diversity in its clubs.

The art and architecture of Italy were gorgeous, Larry said. The hotel they stayed in was one of the nicest they’d ever seen.

“It had 3 telephones in the room, including one in the bathroom,” Larry said.

Partitions could be opened or closed to make the outdoor balcony actually part of the room.

The bathroom had a bidet.

“The food was good,” Larry said. “Donna and I wanted to try to some authentic Italian pizza.”

They walked a long way to find it.

They found it wasn’t at all like American pizza.

“And they didn’t have wings to go with it like I get when I go to Pizza Hut,” Larry said.

He and Donna did a little sightseeing after the convention. Their stops included Florence.

“Jerome Thompson, a past international director and a real estate attorney out of Moulton, helped us put together the arrangements,” Larry said.

Their tour included the Duomo, one of the oldest churches in the world. It’s the largest brick dome ever constructed and it took over 100 years to build.

“The guy who designed it had no architectural experience,” Larry said.

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