A few of the many entertainers who took the stage at this year’s Lions Club telethon at the Howard Phillips Community Hall. (Archie Stocker Sr./Haida Gwaii Observer)

Lions Club telethon pushes up to $19,545

Maybe it was the push-ups, or the Fluevog shoes.

Whatever got people ringing into this year’s Masset Haida Lions Telethon, it was a roaring success — in one day, the Lions raised a total of $19,545 for local youth.

“It’s one of the higher ones,” says Lions Club President James Sikora, who sported a tuxedo along with his Lions Club vest for the Nov. 25 telethon.

According to the district manager, the Masset Haida Lions Club raises more money for its size than any other — Vancouver Lions Club leaders were asking just how they do it. Sikora puts it down to how tight-knit the roughly 1,400 people in Old Massett and Masset are.

“The telethon is a success because the community gets behind us,” he said.

From Haida art prints to children’s toys, fishing trips to a round of Yew wood, Sikora said the items up for auction stood out for the number donated by off-island businesses, including shops in Prince Rupert and Vancouver shoe designer John Fluevog.

Streaming the telethon live on Facebook as well as local cable stations brought some extra viewers, including some former Masset Lions who have since moved away but tuned in to continue the tradition of Christmas shopping by telethon.

One lucky bidder called up and pledged $40 just to see Tahayghen Elementary principal Ian Keir do 25 push-ups in a row.

Rumour has it that it was in fact a Keir look-alike wearing a big hoodie who took up the challenge.

“Unofficially, the rumours are very close to the truth,” said Sikora, laughing.

But the bidder got more than their money’s worth.

“If you look at the video, he actually counts 14, 15, 16, 16, 16… It ended up being 40 push-ups.”

Sikora said the Lions’ key mandate is to support local youth, and they already got an early chance to do that by helping the girls volleyball team from Gudangaay Tlaats’gaa Naay travel down to provincials in Fernie last weekend.

They also plan to support teams travelling to the Junior All Native basketball tournament, and the GTN Travel Club trip to Costa Rica this May.

As always, the Lions donated 10 per cent of the telethon funds to Easter Seals House, which offers Haida Gwaii families a place to stay when in Vancouver for medical emergencies. They also maintain the Faith Gardens at the Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital.

Sikora said the Lions would love to have some new, younger members sign up after four Lions moved away and two retired this year.

“We’re trying to change it from an old farts’ organization to a young one, where kids are part of the activities,” he said, adding that they’re planning to hire a babysitter for Lions Club meetings and invite kids out to the club dinners.

“I want the kids to see what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re just trying to serve the community, and have fun.”

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