AUBURN — Lions Clubs First International Vice President Wayne Madden soon will hold the title of president of the worldwide foundation.
Madden will be sworn in as president June 26 while he is in Busan, Korea, for the Lions Clubs International 95th Annual Convention.
"It'll be the biggest convention we've ever had — over 55,000 registrants," Madden said this week.
On Tuesday, Madden left for Korea, where he will replace the Lions' current president, Wing-Kun Tam.
Lions Clubs International is a service-based organization that helps communities around the world with projects such as fighting measles and blindness, especially in children.
Madden joined the club in 1984 after he saw what the Lions Club stood for.
"I was born and raised here in Auburn," said Madden. "At that time, I had seen the kind of people that were in the Auburn Lions Club. They were the type of people you'd want to emulate, a good group of men."
After the international convention, Madden will take a few days' rest before he and his wife, Linda, also a Lion, travel to Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Then they will come back to Indiana for a few days and leave for Nigeria soon afterward.
"It keeps you on the go," Madden said of his role that takes him around the world, most of the time with his wife.
"We travel the world visiting Lions, looking at their projects, encouraging them to do more and encouraging them to continue their good work."
He said in his new role as president, his job will change only slightly, as he will now lead board meetings instead of being a participant.
"It really won't change so much other than being a lot busier," Madden said. "We'll be lucky to be home four weeks out of the whole year after June 26."
Currently, he is looking forward to new projects and said next year will be the year he will be able to set goals for the Lions.
One goal he has is to fight illiteracy. He wants to encourage Lions to get involved with schools and to help children read.
He also said many Third World countries have libraries but do not have books on the shelves.
Through partnerships with the organizations Reading is Fundamental and Scholastic, he hopes the Lions will be able to purchase books for children in the United States and around the world.
"That'll be our major focus next year, to improve their education and their reading ability," said Madden. "Obviously, we'll probably barely put a dent in the situation if at all, but at least the ones we get to will become better readers and better educated."
Madden's plans do not stop there. He will be in charge of the next Lions international convention in Hamburg, Germany, next year.
He also is looking ahead at the 100th anniversary of Lions Clubs in 2017. He said a bill in Congress would allow the purchase of a commemorative coin to benefit the Lions.
Madden said he would like the Lions to have more of a presence in Washington, D.C., and with the commemorative coins bill, that is happening.
"A lot of things are coming to fruition that we worked on for many years," he said.