Lions pumped up for golden Gasorama
A poker bet 50 years ago started an annual Lions Club fundraiser that has raised $1 million for charity over the years.
Now members of Hamilton Lions are preparing for their golden anniversary “Gasorama” next month at the Terceira’s North Shore Rubis gas station where the event started a half century ago.
Rubis Bermuda managing director Graham Redford said it was “a milestone for us, as there is not another local charity or event that has received support for 50 continuous years”.
This year’s event on February 9 is the first since the death last year of Lions past president Edward “Teddy” Chapman, who started the fundraiser over a poker game with the late Malcolm Ralph Terceira, who owned the gas station now run by his son and grandsons.
Mr Terceira vowed to give his horse away to whoever beat him at poker, but Mr Chapman asked for the use of the gas station for a day instead.
His son, Ralph Terceira, said the event had flourished since into “a great tradition and an affiliation with the Lions Club”.
Ralph added: “Hats off to them that they came to us every year ready to go again. Together we’ve kept it going.
“It’s one of the most fun things the Lions members have, interacting with so many people. It’s just part of our year.”
He said: “What’s great for customers is that nobody likes paying for fuel — this way, you’re doing good things for a lot of people, which is a nice twist.”
Ralph’s own sons, Michael and Teddy, are the third generation of the family to back the day of fun.
Jacqui Graham-Simmons, a past Lions president, has turned up at the event in a home-made lion costume since 2014 and promised to be there this year, despite still recovering from a broken leg.
She was inspired to create the costume after she was elected president.
Ms Graham-Simmons said: “I love it; it’s just for the children, but even the adults like it.
“It’s just the joy of it, seeing the expressions on their faces that makes me very happy. I never thought it would be so much fun.”
Ms Graham-Simmons said it got hot in the costume, but that she wore it only for the February fundraiser and the Christmas parade.
She added: “We’re a team and we all stand together for charity. It’s a time when we come together.”
Ms Graham-Simmons has also persuaded professional boxer Nikki Bascome, a friend, to take part in the event several times.
This year’s recipients of the fundraiser will be the Bermuda Society for the Blind and the Bermuda Zoological Society.
Lions members man the pumps and take in tips, as well as selling $5 raffle tickets, with this year’s draw to be held at 6pm.
Michael said the event “creates a buzz in a unique way — one year the Lions had blind men and women helping”.
Terceira’s gas station has also donated the gross profits for the day since the event started.
This year’s prizes include a Kawasaki Edge 115cc bike and $500 travel vouchers.
Michael said drivers are encouraged to come with empty tanks as they are “literally fuelling the size of the donations”.
Teddy added that the company planned “something special” for the golden anniversary, with Rubis offering extras through its rewards programme.
He said: “The feedback from people is one of the best parts.”
Mark Bothello, the president of Hamilton Lions, said the Society for the Blind’s share would go towards the restoration of its headquarters, Beacon House in Hamilton.
Mr Bothello added: “Your feet are killing you by the end of the day, but we have people who come every year to support us.”
• The Gasorama is also a chance to join the Hamilton Lions Club. Anyone interested in joining can e-mail Mr James at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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