The Ray Hempel Stroy
One Man’s Vision: Lions Camp | The Beginning
Lions and Lioness change the world and make a difference in peoples’ lives. Lion Ray Hempel was a person who changed the world for thousands of kids. His vision challenged Wisconsin Lions and Lioness to change the world of children with special needs.
We’ve all heard the words “Blind kids can’t go to outdoor camp and stuff like that…” but do we know the Poy Sippi Lion who took those words to heart? Lion Ray Hempel was that man.
Lion Ray Hempel heard those words from two blind 12-year-old boys he was visiting in the hospital, after he asked them if they had ever attended any type of camp. The year was 1952 and that casual remark set Lion Hempel to begin visualizing a camp that would provide an outdoor camping experience for those boys and others like them.
Lion Ray Hempel was an avid camper, Boy Scout leader and a Lion, so it didn’t take him long to decide what was needed and that the Lions should start a camp for blind children. At the 1955 State Lions Convention, Poy Sippi Lions, led by Lion Ray, petitioned District Governors for support of a permanent camp location. A site search led to today’s Lions Camp property, nestled in the rolling hills of Central Wisconsin near Rosholt, its purchase approved at the 1956 State Convention.
Lion Ray served as the first Lions Camp Director and eagerly took on its development. In 1959, at the Camp Gateway Dedication, Lion Ray was recognized as the originator of the Wisconsin Lions Camp by Lions International President, Clarence L. Sturm. Lions Camp has since touched the lives of tens of thousands of children and adults with special needs.
In deference to Lion Ray and to Honor Personal Dedication, Lions Pride is introducing the Ray Hempel Fellowship. Bestowing the honor of a Ray Hempel Fellowship is a fitting tribute to recognize and celebrate a Club member, spouse or treasured friend’s unique accomplishments, extraordinary dedication, support and service to others.
A Hempel Fellowship contribution of $1,000 will be deposited into the permanent Lions Pride Endowment Fund where interest earnings help support Lions Camp and other Wisconsin Lions Foundation statewide projects both today and tomorrow. The Lions Pride Endowment Fund is “Today’s Help, Tomorrow’s Hope,” contributing annually to the WLF, while protecting the contributed principal, ensuring the lasting legacy of service, that began with Lion Ray Hempel’s vision of Wisconsin Lions Camp.
An Awardee will receive a Ray Hempel Fellow lapel pin, a personalized recognition plaque and their name added to the permanent Ray Hempel Fellowship Recognition Display in the Lions Pride Office.
If you’re considering naming a deserving individual a Ray Hempel Fellow, download the form below, or contact us to learn more about Lion Ray Hempel and the fellowship program.