It all started when Frenchman Jean Eymere, a ski instructor in Aspen, Colorado lost his sight through diabetes. A few years after losing his sight, in 1969, he wanted to ski again. His friends and colleagues at the ski school assisted him and guided him safely down the mountain. This experiment was so encouraging, that the Aspen Ski School invited a group of blind persons from the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind in Colorado Springs to share their new learned skills. The Aspen Lions Club sponsored this event and provided bright yellow Jackets with a Lions emblem and a big imprint: “Blind Skier”. Aspen BOLD was born. The news media picked up on the story; famous Olympic skiers like Kikki Cutter, Jean Claude Killy (a friend of the blind Jean Eymere), Stein Eriksen, Judy Nagel, Spider Sabich and several others were on the Advisory Board; including Sam Skobel from Chicago and our own Lion Dick Kapp from Port Washington, Wisconsin. Through Jean Eymere’s popularity and efforts BOLD organizations in many cities across the country sprang up. Most disappeared again over the years.
Aspen BOLD in 2002 merged with Challenge Aspen and is no longer a function of the Lions Club. Event participants have to pay their own way. In 1973/1974 during his term as District Governor of District 27A2 Lion Dick Kapp formed Milwaukee BOLD. It was DG Lion Dick’s intention to get Lions and Lionesses directly and personally involved with leisure activities for the Visually Impaired and totally blind Persons (VIPs). VIPs from the Greater Milwaukee Area, from Hartford, Waukesha and Fond du Lac joined the group.
District 27A1 also got involved quite actively with participants from Racine and Kenosha and therefore BOLD was renamed: Southeastern Wisconsin Lions BOLD, Inc. In 1977 Southeastern Wisconsin Lions BOLD, Inc. was incorporated as a non-profit corporation in the State of Wisconsin. What started out in January 1974, nervously, with 5 blind people wanting to go downhill skiing has grown into an average of 26 different summer and winter activities. Almost every other weekend some event is scheduled for the VIPs.