Helen Keller and the Lions

Born in Alabama in 1880, Helen Adams Keller contracted an illness at the age of 19 months that robbed her of sight and hearing. For five long years, she lived in a dark and silent world until Anne Sullivan became her teacher and companion. Sullivan gave to Helen Keller the gift of light and language. Sullivan gave to the world the gift of Helen Keller.

Helen Keller’s achievements are remarkable for any person, but they are absolutely astounding for a deaf and blind woman born before the arrival of women’s suffrage and before significant consideration was given to the rights of the disabled.

Helen Keller received her Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude from Radcliffe College in 1904. She became a published author. She was an ardent lecturer and human rights advocate. She was awarded the United States’ highest honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and served as a spokesperson and ambassador for the American Foundation for the Blind until her death in 1968. It was in this capacity that Helen Keller came to the attention of the Lions.

Helen Keller and the Lions
In 1925, when Lions International was only seven years old, the legendary Helen Keller spoke to Lions members at their annual convention and challenged them to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.” That speech set the Lions’ course. Since then, millions of Lions members worldwide have devoted their service careers to helping people with visual impairments.

Helen Keller’s Speech

Looking at all that Helen Keller has accomplished, it is small wonder that the Lions are inspired by this exceptional woman and quite natural that the Minnesota Lions Vision Foundation developed the Helen Keller Sight Award as a tribute to her.



Minnesota Lions Helen Keller Award

Helen Keller Sight Award
Helen Keller Awards are given to honor those who have distinguished themselves on behalf of sight. They are an excellent way to honor a Lion, Lioness, non-Lion individual, business, or organization. A $1,000 donation to the Minnesota Lions Vision Foundation (for Lions Gift of Sight, the Lions Children’s Eye Clinic, the MAC Center, the Minnesota Lions Eye Surgery Center, or other Vision Foundation projects) allows the donor to present a Helen Keller Award. The award recipient receives a beautiful plaque and pin, and the recipient’s name is displayed on a Helen Keller board in the University of Minnesota’s Eye Clinic. Both the donor and the recipient have the satisfaction of supporting worthwhile Lions projects.

Established in 1992, more than 2,000 Helen Keller Awards have now been bestowed on deserving recipients.

Download a copy of the Helen Keller Award Application.