A new creature has surfaced in Faulkner County to both promote a special event and to inform children of the need to help the visually impaired.
Jonnie Bounds, a member of the Conway Noon Lions Club and in costume as the Toad Suck Lion, has appeared at 10 Faulkner County elementary and middle schools during the past two weeks. Her presentations inform students, faculty, and staff about the vision conservation efforts of Lions Clubs, both on a local level and internationally. She also encourages them to attend Sunday night’s fund raiser, the Harlem Ambassador Basketball Show, which will support such efforts as well as provide an evening of wholesome family entertainment.
She and Dr. Henry Smiley are the club’s "Tailtwisters," who are responsible for beginning each meeting with some humor. While she uses humor in her presentation as the Toad Suck Lion, she also points out that the game’s purpose is to raise funds that will be used to help the blind and visually impaired in Faulkner County who cannot afford such assistance. As part of that presentation, she asks those who wear glasses to imagine not being able to afford the eye care they need and how they would struggle in their schoolwork as a result. She also notes that Lions help at other levels in conjunction with Little Rock’s World Services for the Blind, which prepares the sightless and sight-impaired for a variety of careers. Bounds also notes the worldwide efforts by Lions Clubs International to provide eye care and prevent blindness.
Her Toad Suck Lion character is based on the name of the celebrity team that will be playing the Harlem Ambassadors. The touring Ambassadors play local teams rather than touring with another professional team.
This year, club officials decided to bring the character to life. Seamstress Margaret Huber crafted a costume consisting of a lion’s head, a Toad Suck Lion shirt, green satin trousers with a lion’s tail, and toad feet. Bounds adds some lion face makeup to make the transformation complete.
Children have expressed surprised at her appearance at first, but warm to her presentation. She works in some audience participation by having the children do some dribbling with a bright yellow, smiley-face basketball. Bounds does some dribbling of her own as she speaks, a holdover from her playing days as a Des Arc Lady Eagle and an Arkansas Tech Golden Sun.
The game and show will be at 6 p.m. Sunday on Cliff Garrison Court at the Hendrix Wellness and Athletic Center. The Lions will be coached by Arkansas basketball legends Cliff Garrison, Don Dyer, and Marvin Delph. As well as performing basketball stunts and comedy routines, the Ambassadors have a message to youth about education, being a role model and good citizenship.
Tickets are $1 for students, $3 for seniors, and $5 for adults when purchased in advance of the game. Children under 4 will be admitted free. The night of the game, prices will be $2, $4, and $6, respectively.
Students bringing the brochure that was distributed during Bounds’ presentations will be admitted for the advance price.
Tickets are being sold at the following locations: All Simmons First National Bank branches, Gary Cox, CPA (811 Parkway Avenue), the Log Cabin Democrat, and the Faulkner County Library.