Lions Club hosting celebratory event for Ansley
By Shawn Loughlin
The Blyth Lions Club is hosting a special open house to celebrate Mikayla Ansley and her worldwide-winning essay, “Kindness Matters” next month.
The club will celebrate Ansley on Sunday, April 14 at Memorial Hall from 3-5 p.m. There will be special presentations and an address from Ansley herself, including a recitation of her essay, at approximately 3:45 p.m.
Ansley and her parents, Mike and Katie, have just returned from New York City where Mikayla presented her essay and received her Lions Clubs International Peace Essay trophy and a cash prize of $5,000 U.S.
After first triumphing at the club and district levels, Ansley’s essay was then chosen as the best in Multiple District A, which encompasses all of Ontario and Quebec, before moving onto the international competition.
The Citizen broke the news of Ansley’s win in late February, which then led to the family’s trip to Manhattan earlier this month.
The competition, which was spearheaded by Lions Clubs International several years ago, invites students between the ages of 11 and 13 with visual impairments to write an essay on their answer to peace. This branch of the competition was established as an answer to the organization’s peace poster competition but for students with visual impairments.
The essay details Ansley’s battle with bilateral retinoblastoma, a rare form of ocular cancer that caused her to lose her left eye and most of the vision in her right.
Ansley said many people were very kind to her family at a time when both of her parents, Mike and Katie, had to quit their jobs to take her to the hospital on a regular basis.
She also details the steps she’s taken to pass kindness on in recent years, whether it’s a fundraiser at her school, writing letters to world leaders or simply exchanging a smile. Ansley wrote that the smallest acts of kindness on a daily basis can change the world.
Mikayla’s journey in the competition began through her father, Mike, who is a member of the Blyth Lions Club. Long-time Blyth Lions Club member John Stewart informed Mike of the competition, specifically aimed at children between the ages of 11 and 13 with visual impairments.
From there, Mike and Katie mentioned it to Mikayla and she was immediately interested, although she says she has never considered herself much of a writer.
Mikayla has won numerous awards for her public speaking achievements over the years, a forum she says she much prefers. With her limited vision, she said, the physical act of writing or typing on her iPad can be exhausting.
However, she committed to writing about a topic she’s passionate about and asked her father to proofread for her before she submitted the essay late last year.
Before Mikayla turned the essay over to her parents, she said she was confident she had done a good job, knowing it was a good opportunity to get the message of kindness across.