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Grand Chute Lions build 500th handicap ramp for community

Grand Chute Lions Ramp Crew
Posted at 5:13 PM, Feb 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-15 18:44:51-05

APPLETON (NBC 26) — The Grand Chute Lions Club has been building handicap ramps for community members in need since 1993, and on Wednesday, they hit a major milestone: ramp number 500.

“We just service the community with a lot of things,” said Jim Leppla, Grand Chute Lions Ramp Crew Leader.

Building handicap ramps is one of their many services.

“We build for children, or aunts and uncles, or elderly parents that have started to have walking problems,” said Leppla.

They provide free labor and if the family needs it, there are organizations that will cover the cost of lumber.

“We're retired and have more time, and we have skills, and we can help out,” said Leppla.

The current group of Lions is made up of retired individuals including teachers, business owners, a banker, a heavy equipment operator, a sheriff, a fire chief, and a residential builder.

“We don't have a lot of them that are 22. But we have a lot of them that are 42 or 52, and well, I'm almost 80 and John is 90,” said Leppla.

John Kafura is a man on a mission. For the last 30 years, he's been rallying Lions to build ramps. He was a part of build number one all the way up to the milestone markers of 500.

At 90 years old, John still comes out every week to build with the guys.

After asking him what made him come back week after week, John gave a simple response.

“Oh, you go home, you have a good feeling. You did some good for somebody else that needed help… plus I got to be with the guys today,” said John Kafura, Grand Chute Lions Charter Member.

The Grand Chute Lions build handicap ramps nearly every Wednesday.

“Well, our age will stop us one day,” said Leppla.

But today was not that day.

“Lions continue; There's always new Lions coming in feeding the channels up, so it works out well,” said Leppla.

Today’s build marks number 500, but John is hopeful that new Lions will keep it going for 500 more.