Kiwanis International President John R. Button is committed to strengthening and growing Kiwanis’ promise for children to live better lives. As a Kiwanian for 35 years, the family physician from Ridgetown, Ontario, Canada, has seen the power of this international organization.
On a trip to Guinea to review the progress of The Eliminate Project: Kiwanis eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus, Dr. John and his wife Debbie saw mothers and children come from a village where no roads go receive vaccinations. He watched as dozens of villagers formed a line at a health clinic as a motorcycle roared up to deliver tetanus vaccine on ice. That afternoon, 214 young women were immunized. Most were receiving their third and final shots. They didn’t come by car or truck or motorcycle. They arrived on foot from miles around. One year later, the World Health Organization declared that maternal and neonatal tetanus had been eliminated from Guinea. Dr. John is looking forward to the day when he can say Kiwanis helped eliminate a disease from the Earth.
Dr. John presides over Kiwanis International at a milestone moment. In January 2015, Kiwanis celebrates its 100th anniversary of serving the children of the world. To reflect the occasion, Dr. John chose “The Way Ahead” as the theme for the 2014-15 administrative year.
Across Canada's north, the Inuit people erected stone monuments called Inukshuks to serve as navigation and direction markers in the harsh and desolate Arctic. The Inukshuk represents safety and nourishment, trust and reassurance. It symbolizes cooperation, balance and unselfishness. Each stone, while separate, supports and is supported by the one above it and below it. No one stone is any more important than the other. As Kiwanians celebrate 100 years of service and enter our second century, the message of the Inukshuk shows us “The Way Ahead.”
Dr. John is a former Key Clubber and a second-generation Kiwanian. He joined the Kiwanis Club of Ridgetown in 1978. John is married to Debbie, has a son, a daughter and three grandchildren.