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They puckered up for a pig

Lions' event raises money for diabetes research

Lions' event raises money for diabetes research

June 18, 2006|by TARA REILLY

HAGERSTOWN

John Hopkins was smooth with his technique.

He leaned in, puckered up and laid his lips on ... the rear end of a baby pig.

At the point of contact, the groans from the crowd Saturday at Municipal Stadium were noticeable. Moments later, the applause and the pats on the back from his colleagues began.

Hopkins kissed the pig to raise money for diabetes research.

He said the smooch was no big deal.

It's an activity he must be used to because it's the third time in as many years that he's done it.

"I've always been kissing the butt of that bad boy," Hopkins said.

Hopkins, vice district governor of the Lions of District 22-W, part of Lions Clubs International, was participating in the club's Kiss-A-Pig contest.

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The Lions Clubs have been holding the event at Hagerstown Suns games for the last 12 years.

Why a pig?

Because of its important contribution to the treatment of diabetes.

In 1922, scientists took insulin from the pancreas of a pig and injected it into diabetics for treatment. It was the first reported discovery of insulin, according to a written statement from the Lions of District 22-W.

"It was not until the discovery of insulin that diabetics had any hope for living a long life," according to the statement. "With the development of insulin, diabetics were able to live a more normal life ..."

Diabetes is a disease that does not produce or properly use insulin, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Before the discovery, District Diabetes Chairwoman Donna Jackman said treatment consisted of putting leeches on diabetics to suck the blood, starving the diabetic or both.

"We know this certainly did not work," Jackman said.

Not only is the contest a fundraiser, but it also is intended to honor the pig, she said.

Jackman said that as of Saturday, the Kiss-A-Pig event raised $12,545. Money still was expected to be raised, she said. So far this year, the district has raised $40,594 for diabetes research.

Jackman said that candidates from different clubs run each year to have the opportunity to kiss a pig. Each candidate tries to raise as much money as he or she can. The person who raises the most money kisses the front of the pig, and the person who raises the least money kisses its rear end.

The money raised is donated to the American Diabetes Association.

Tom Harney, of the Taylorsville-Winfield Lions Club in Carroll County, raised the most money in the district with $6,680. He kissed the pig twice - on top of its nose and on the top of its head.

Harney, a diabetic, has won the contest three years in a row.

"It's all for a good cause," Harney said. "That's why I do it."

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