Photo: Lions Club members, Ambassadors from the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce and other workers and donors surround Cody Dunaway, seated, as all prepare to cut the ribbon on “Cody’s Project,” a brick patio, walkway and wheelchair ramp, a service project of the Lions Club.

By Dave Rogers

For The Record

The motto of the Lions Club is “We Serve.”

It was only fitting then that Monday members noted the 80th anniversary of the Orange Lions Club by celebrating the completion of a service project.

“Cody’s Project” was the building of a wheelchair ramp and the construction of a large brick patio and walkway to assist Cody Dunaway of Orange, who has Angelman syndrome, a rare genetic and neurological disorder.

Several workdays for about two dozen Lions members and other volunteers went into the estimated 500 man-hours required to provide the level surface and ramp needed for Cody to get from his front door to the school bus each day.

The Lions called on veterans from the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce and Ambassadors for a Monday evening “ribbon cutting” for the project.

“It’s good to have a community that actually gets together and helps people out,” said Tabitha Yust, Cody’s mom. She and Don Dunaway are Cody’s parents.

While the Lions provided much elbow grease assistance to this project first envisioned by Don Dunaway, a number of donors – including Sabine River Ford, which donated the 3,670 brick 6×6-inch pavers – contributed material and equipment to the effort.

They were all recognized both at the ribbon cutting and at the Lions Club meeting that followed at the Brown Center.

The focus of the meeting, of course, was recognizing the club for its 80 years of continuous service to Orange County.

Lion Rusty Honeycutt, president, and Lion Chris Gunstream, first vice president, display the Orange Lions Club 1927 charter which 
was signed by Melvin Jones, founder of Lions Clubs International, as part of the club’s 80th anniversary celebration.

Rusty Honeycutt, this year’s president, noted that the local anniversary coincided with the 100th birthday of Lions International.

He and vice president Chris Gunstream displayed the Orange Lions Club’s framed charter from 1927 and noted that it carries the signature of Melvin Jones, the founder of Lions Club International.

Also on that 1927 document were the names of the charter members of the local club. In alphabetic order:

Curtis Beaty, Dr. S. Bock, A.F. Burns, Dan Cable Jr., W.L. Cox, William Crouch, Eddie Frenzel, A.E. Fuller, A.P. Fuller, Meade Graves, L.W. Hustmyre, J.D. Joyner.

Also, Dave Journeay, Valton Landrum, F.C.B. Manley, D.W. McCollister, H.S. Peterson, J.B. Quigley, Raymond Sanders, T.D. Sells, Frank R. Smith, L.E. Taggart, R.C. Terry, S.C. Trimble, M.A. West.

Howard Peterson was the club’s first president.

John Martin, who joined the Orange Lions Club in 1966 – 51 years ago — was the longest-serving member at Monday’s meeting.

Among other topics at the meeting were a thank-you from Orange County Sheriff Keith Merritt, a member, to his fellow Lions for their help in last week’s Cops N Kids Picnic, and a reminder about the Aug. 5 Back To School Orange County event that provides school supplies, haircuts, medical and eye exams, and all sorts of help for children in advance of the start of school.

Lion John Backer provided a recap of “Cody’s Project.”

He said he first learned of the need when he approached the owners of Sabine River Ford, Jim Surber and Ross Smith, to ask about the pile of bricks that had been pulled up from the dealership lot during a recent renovation.

“I was begging for Ross and Jim to do something with the pavers or give them to me,” Backer said.

“Jim said ‘We’ve got an employee who needs them for his son.’”

The employee was Cody’s dad, Don Dunaway.

“I met with Don and he kind of gave me the idea of what he wanted to do,” Backer recalled. “I asked the Lions if they wanted to take this on and they jumped on it.”

An example of the teamwork brought to the job by the Lions Club:

On a rainy Saturday in March, 28 people – 17 Lions and 11 others – needed only two hours to sort and stack nearly 4,000 paver bricks onto 14 pallets provided by Akrotex.

“We had already given him [Dunaway] the pavers,” Surber recalled. “The Lions Club jumped in and got everything done faster that what he’d have been able to do.

“It was very much a blessing to his son. Now he can make it to the road to catch the special needs bus.”

While parent Don Dunaway looks on, Cody Dunaway rides up his new wheelchair ramp with assistance from homecare provider Richard Lunsford. The Orange Lions Club built the ramp and a brick walkway and patio as a community service project.

McCoy’s Lumber transported the palletized pavers to the worksite at Cody’s home and provided the film used to secure the pavers. Todd Duhon with Duhon Custom Homes and Kyle Stephens of Orange County Plumbing provided heavy equipment to excavate the site.

Bobby Manshack with Manshack and Sons donated loads of gravel and sand to build a solid base for the pavers and Home Depot provided a compactor to firm up the ground. Metal Depot provided panels to cover the wheelchair ramp and Riken Metal Works provided a fire ring.

The Lions Club also got a grant from Texasramps.org to help pay for the ramp’s construction.

“Even with all the work by the Lions Club, without the people in this community donating their time, effort and resources, we couldn’t have done this,” Backer said.

“It’s the best project I’ve been involved with.”