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Lions celebrate holidays with family, donate more than $5,000 to charity

Brothers Jake O’Clair (left) and Jeremy O’Clair tell Santa what they want for Christmas during a Lion’s Club party on Sunday, Dec. 10. (Jessica Potila | SJVT/FhF)

FORT KENT, Maine — Santa Claus was not the only man with a bushy beard at the Fort Kent Lions Club family Christmas party at the Lonesome Pine Trails Lodge on Sunday. Many of the Lions changed their shaving habits over the past six weeks to take part in a “Facial Hair for Cancer Care” fundraiser.

The Lions raised $5,019.58 through the fundraiser, and donated half to the Edgar J. Paradis Cancer Fund, and half to Jennifer Draper of Fort Kent, who is fighting cholangiocarcinoma, which is more commonly known as bile duct cancer.

“It took on a life of its own,” Lion’s Club member and event co-organizer Steff Gagne said of the fundraiser. “It was not just the guys with the beards who raised money, other Lions members and the community also got involved.”

At the party, Gagne presented the funds to Edgar Paradis’ brothers, Roland and Danny Paradis and to Draper.

As of last April, the Paradis fund has donated more than $1,000,000 to assist cancer patients and their families, according to Roland Paradis.

“Every family is touched by cancer,” he said at the party. “This was a very nice effort by the Lions.”

Draper also expressed her appreciation to the organization for the donation.

“I want to say thank you very, very much for the outpouring of support,” she said. Draper added that people in the community have helped her and her family since her cancer diagnosis, not only financially, but emotionally. Some folks even have helped to prepare meals.

The party also was an opportunity for Lions members to gather with their families and celebrate the holiday season.

In true northern Maine style, Santa Claus arrived at the party riding a trail groomer. He posed for photos with children who told him what they want for Christmas and sang carols at the party. Each child also received a present from one of Santa’s elves.

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