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Lions ham it up, kissing little porker for good cause

July 01, 2007|By MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN-So what is it about a pig that had people clamoring for a kiss?

Some said it was fun. Others weren't so sure. But for those who participated, it was all about puckering up for a good cause.

Kiss a Pig, a fundraiser for diabetes research, was held Saturday night prior to the Hagerstown Suns game at Municipal Stadium.

The event was sponsored by District 22-W Lions Clubs.

The district includes more than 2,000 members from Washington, Frederick, Carroll, Garrett and Allegany counties in Maryland.

"We've been doing this for the past 14 years," said Donna Jackman, diabetes awareness chairperson for District 22-W. "Members seek donations from friends and family, and the person who has raised the most money has the honor of kissing the pig."

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Jackman wasn't as fortunate.

"I told members that if we brought in more than $12,000, I would kiss the back side of the pig," she said. "We raised $16,914.50, so I guess I have to keep my word."

Raising the most money this year was Tom Harney of the Taylorsville-Winfield Lions Club of Carroll County, who raised $6,420 in pledges.

"It's a good feeling knowing this money will be put to good use," Harney said. "Both my brother and sister have diabetes, so participating in this fundraiser is personal. It's something I'm committed to doing every year. Hopefully, one day we'll find a cure."

John Hopkins, district governor of District 22-W, said a fundraiser for diabetes was a natural fit for the Lions Clubs.

"Sight is what we're all about," Hopkins said. "We work with the Wilmer Eye Institute, we raise money for vision programs within our communities. And diabetes affects vision."

Hopkins said the clubs also sponsor a walk each year to benefit the American Diabetes Association.

According to Jackman, the first successful insulin preparations came from pigs.

"That's the idea behind the Kiss a Pig fundraiser," she said. "At one time, leeches were used on diabetic patients or they were starved to death. Insulin from the pancreas of the pig was the first hope for diabetics that they could live a normal life."

Jackman presented a check to Julie Frieman of the Maryland Chapter of the American Diabetes Association. She thanked the Lions Club members for their donation and support.

"I don't know if I'm expected to kiss the pig or not," Frieman said. "But after receiving this check, I'd be happy to."

This was not the first year that Harney had raised the most money for the fundraiser, so he had some prior experience in kissing a pig.

"It's not fun," he said. "It smells, it's hairy and it wiggles a lot. You don't linger. It's a quick smooch and you're out of there."

Barbara Ullrich of the Beaver Creek Lions Club was among the District 22-W members on hand for Saturday's activities.

"This is fun," she said. "But I don't have to kiss a pig."

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