By Marie Gilmore

Rotary International President, Sakuji Tanaka, took an afternoon tour of Brandon’s Rotary Camp Florida before heading to Innisbrook Golf Resort to attend a fundraising dinner aimed at raising funds for the local camp.

More than 40 local Rotary presidents were invited guests at a special luncheon at the 18-acre camp located right in the heart of Brandon. The purpose of the tour was to both introduce the International president, on tour from his hometown of Yashio, a city of approximately 81,000 north of Tokyo, Japan, and to showcase improvements and additions to the camp in recent years.

Rotary Camp Florida, a former Methodist camp, was purchased by a group of dedicated Rotarians in 1991. Today, the camp is home to countless groups and organizations who bring up to 132 children and/or campers to the centrally located and well-appointed lake-front camp.

President Tanaka is on tour of the U.S. where he leads more than 34,000 Rotary Clubs across the globe. His Brandon stop was just one of many on his year-long tour promoting his Rotary theme of Peace Through Service.

After a tour of the camp, President Tanaka was presented with a brick paver engraved with his name and acknowledging his visit to the camp as a permanent reminder of his tour.

“This is very nice,” said President Tanaka, who was escorted by dignitaries, drivers and a translator from local rotary groups. “When we serve, we are helping all of humanity. The effects of what we do go on and on.”

Jim Harmon, Executive Director of Rotary’s Camp Florida, was honored to escort President Tanaka around the park he has managed for five years. “This camp exemplifies the Rotarian motto of ‘Service above Self’.  It was an honor to have Rotary International President Tanaka visit our facility and see all that it does for children and adults with challenges.”

President Tanaka was the second International President that has visited the camp, the first was Past President Herb Brown.

After the tour, Tanaka was the guest of honor at a luncheon on-site at Lennard Hall, which has recently undergone a facelift. Guest speakers included camp founders, leaders and cancer survivor Peggy Sherry, founder of Faces of Courage, the leader of a cancer camp that has been utilizing the camp for 15 years.

After the luncheon, Tanaka prepared for the formal dinner raising funds for Rotary Foundation and Rotary’s Camp Florida.

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Marie is the Managing Editor at the Osprey Observer. She covers news, transportation, education and likes to make a positive impact on the community and be 'in the know'!