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Charlotte, NC – Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department hosts a ceremony and tree planting to honor Helen Keller on Saturday, April 10, 2010 at 10am at Freedom Park, 1900 East Blvd. The ceremony and tree planting will take place on the far side of the lake from the band shell, between the two bridges, not far from the bridge that goes across Little Sugar toward Charlotte Nature Museum.

The Lions’ Clubs, the group which raised the money to build Freedom Park, will plant the tree and conduct the ceremony to honor Helen Keller. The Lions have adopted as their special mission to help people who are blind and sight-impaired.

Helen Keller (1880 – 1968) was an American author, political activist and lecturer. She was the first person who was both deaf and blind to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. The story of how Keller's teacher broke through her isolation and near complete lack of language, allowing her to communicate, was told in the play and movie The Miracle Worker. Miss Keller became a prolific author, campaigner for woman’s suffrage and a peace activist. She also campaigned for workers’ rights. She is an outstanding example of a person who overcame physical disabilities to achieve success.

The Charlotte Lions’ Club (which split into several clubs which are now part of the Mecklenburg County Lions Clubs) conducted a private fundraising campaign to build Freedom Park at the end of World War II. The Lions named the park and dedicated it as a memorial to the 10,000 Charlotteans who served in the war. The Lions deeded the property to the City of Charlotte in 1949. Freedom Park is now owned and run by Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation Department, which merged with the city parks department in 1992.

Jennifer Roberts, Chairman of the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners, and representatives of several Lions’ clubs will speak at the ceremony.