Geranium fundraiser for Lions' Eyes for Mexico project is underway; pickup set for May 5-7

The Detroit Lakes Lions Club is currently selling geraniums to benefit its Eyes for Mexico vision project. Pickup is set for May 5-7 at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Detroit Lakes. The 12-inch pots are being sold for $30 each.

Radkes Mazatlan.JPG
Dr. Armand Radke and his wife, Mari (at right) speak with volunteers at the Eyes for Mexico eye clinic held in Mazatlan last month.
Contributed / Armand Radke

DETROIT LAKES — It's been about 18 years since members of area Lions clubs, including Detroit Lakes, first began taking trips down to Mexico to stage eye clinics for those in need.

Though the Lions volunteers have typically seen hundreds of patients in both Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan, this year's clinics looked a little different, according to Dr. Armand Radke, the local Lions member credited for organizing the trips.

"We saw about 250 people the first week (in Mazatlan), and another 350 during the second week," said Radke. "But we had to see them one at a time."

In the past, long lines have formed as potential patients waited for their turn; this time, only those who had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 were even allowed to show up for the clinics. This meant that the event was essentially restricted to employees of the resort where the clinic was held.

"The most we had in line at a time was probably 10 people," said Ken Foltz, another Lions member who accompanied Radke on the Mazatlan trip, along with his wife, Helen, and Radke's wife, Mari. Also along for the first week of the trip were Zach Foltz (Ken's nephew) and his fiancee, Sharona Marthaler.


After the Foltzes went home, the Radkes were joined for the second week of the trip by their son, Dr. Phillip Radke, who is an eye surgeon.

During their entire stay, the Lions volunteers "had to wear masks everywhere we went," Foltz said. In addition, they had to test negative for COVID-19 before they were allowed to fly back home to the U.S.

Even stricter regulations were in place when the Radkes made the trip to Cabo San Lucas in January; Dr. Radke said that for both trips, they had to keep the donated eyeglasses that they provided for their patients at a site separate from the clinic.

After the examinations were concluded, they went to the site — at Mazatlan, it was the backyard of a home owned by a local Lions member — and selected eyeglasses from the boxes of donated onees that they had brought down to Mexico. Then, they would sanitize and package the eyeglasses into separate bags, for delivery directly to the patients' homes.

Despite all of the restrictions, however, "We got it done," Radke said.

Radke added that the local Lions are currently working with the Lions Club International Foundation to expand their annual clinics to include children, through the LCIF's Sight for Kids project, and, in conjunction with the University of Minnesota, to offer eye surgery during the clinics as well.

Geraniums for Mexico

To raise funds for future trips, the local Lions are holding a geranium fundraiser.

Twelve-inch pots of geraniums are being sold to benefit the Detroit Lakes Lions Club's Eyes on Mexico project, which provides eyeglasses to those in need in both Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan, Mexico, where the free eye clinics are held each year.
Contributed / Detroit Lakes Lions Club

For just $30 per 12-inch pot, supporters can purchase geraniums to support the eye project. Pre-orders can be placed with any Lions member, or online at . Call Jim Granger at 218-841-0277 or Brenda Wieland at 218-850-2926 for more information.


Pickup is set for 4-7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, May 5-6, and 9 a.m.-noon on Saturday, May 7, at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Detroit Lakes. Pots will be set outside the church for purchasers to choose from.

Though on-site sales are permitted, only those who have pre-ordered their geraniums are guaranteed to receive their order.

A reporter at Detroit Lakes Newspapers since relocating to the community in October 2000, Vicki was promoted to Community News Lead for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and Perham Focus on Jan. 1, 2022. She has covered pretty much every "beat" that a reporter can be assigned, from county board and city council to entertainment, crime and even sports. Born and raised in Madelia, Minnesota, she is a graduate of Hamline University, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in English literature (writing concentration). You can reach her at
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