CRYSTAL FALLS - Although Eric Strong was diagnosed with autism at an early age, he is currently thriving as the newest member of the Crystal Falls Lions Club.
Lions Club Past District Governor Gene Schiavo said that he felt that Strong's induction into the club was significant.
"Lion Eric is the first member that we know of with this condition to become a Lion," he noted. "The local Lions Club is very proud of him and very happy to have him in our club."
Autism is a developmental disorder that affects the brain's normal development of social and communication skills, Schiavo added.
Strong, 31, first became acquainted with the Crystal Falls Lions Club through his grandmother, Lions Club member Joanie Hietela. He attended every regular meeting with her, then started getting involved in some projects.
"Because of his autism, Hietela said 'I didn't think he could join'," said Schiavo. "We could see no reason why he couldn't, as he had already been as active as many of our current members."
Schiavo added that during the club's recent Bass Festival, Strong kept busy emptying waste barrels and doing other odd jobs.
His activities caught the attention of visiting Past District Governor Donald Wojakowski, who later presented Strong with a special pin.
New Lions Club members are always welcome and needed.