Pickles the Clown greeted Lillyan and Dalayne at the 2021 Lions Fish n’ Fun event held on June 5 at Rock Cut State Park and the boat docks. .

By Marianne Mueller


Rock Cut State Park and boat docks were the scene of the 2021 Lions Fish n’ Fun event where 125 guests were welcomed by different Lions Clubs in District 1-D on Saturday, June 5, along with eight clubs, were joined by 60 additional volunteers to assure that a full day of fun for people with disabilities was brought to life.

Lions Clubs who came together were from covered most of the Stateline and beyond.  Loves Park, Freeport, Capron, South Beloit, Belvidere, Durand, Roscoe and Rockton all participated.

Leo the Lion mingled with guests both on the ground and on a pontoon boat. Pickles the Clown brought smiles to all through warm greetings, a friendly smile and balloon creations.

Entertainer and Musician Chip Messiner played guitar while singing a nice variety of songs.

Coreen Traverzo, member of the Rockford Lions for Pride Leo Club showed great artistic talent as she painted faces. More creative options came in the form of temporary tattoos or eye-catching stickers.

Photo opportunities were plentiful, as breathtaking scenery exists in every part of the park.

By the boat docks a fishing tournament was held with the potential to win awards. Unfortunately, the results show that no fish were caught, though many memories were made.

Guests were invited to see the sites on a horse drawn wagon ride.

Under the Direction of Sherry Perkowitz Leader dogs were ready to meet visitors. “Leader dogs are intended to assist people with low or no vision,” Perkowitz said. 

Perkowitz has been working as with Leader Dogs for the last eight years.” At first I was a puppy raiser, which is defined as: someone who has the puppy from seven weeks old to when they turn one. “Recently I have been working with the Chicago/NW Indiana group as their puppy counselor, as well as being the puppy counselor for the Rockford group,” Perkowitz adds. “As a counselor I plan training and event opportunities for the other puppy raisers. One of our main jobs is to get the puppies as socialized as possible.”

“Think about everywhere you have gone in the past week. Those are all places a blind client would want to go as well and the puppies need to be used to them. We take them with us to work, to the store, malls, restaurants, schools, churches and other places.”

“Bringing these dogs to the Fish n’ Fun and these types of events are the perfect opportunity for the puppies to work on their “calm greetings. “We allow people to come up and say Hi and the puppies work on staying calm and not to be overly excited. This is beneficial for both special needs kids and the dogs.”

Perkowitz is currently training her 10th dog; an eight-month-old golden retriever. “She joined me at the Fish n’ Fun event.”

In total there are currently 13 dogs in training in the area. “We are looking to recruit additional puppy raisers,” Perkowitz said.

Leader dog has their own breeding program and provides puppies for the raisers. They are Labradors, Golden Retrievers, and a small percentage of German Shepherds. Puppies spend their first year in homes with puppy raisers or are placed in prisons to be trained and socialized. At one year they return to Leader Dog in Michigan to begin their formal harness training, which can take up to four to six months, if they graduate, and only 60 percent do, they are then matched up with a client. “They can be placed all over the country or even internationally,” Perkowitz said.

Perkowitz says, “People often ask how you can give up your puppy after you have kept it for a year. I tell them that it’s like sending one of your kids off to college. You are sad to see them go but you know it’s time for them to start on the next step of their lives.”

All attendees were treated to a picnic style lunch.

“The Lions did a beautiful job,” an attendee from the Milestone Group said.

“Next year we are looking forward to welcoming an even bigger crowd again on June 4,” Event Chair, Lion Deen Cooper said.

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