Little known Lotta facts for a Friday: the day she filled Maple Leaf Gardens

What do Lotta Hitschmanova, Jimmy Carter, Vaclav Havel, Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul II all have in common?

They all received the prestigious Rotary Award for World Understanding. Lotta was the 3rd recipient of this award, in June 1983, following Pope John Paul II in 1982.

Rotary Award, photo credit, Canadian Museum of History

As Lotta’s biographer, Clyde Sanger, has related, the award was given to her at a public ceremony in front of 16,800 Rotarians at the famous Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto!

The award carried a value of $100,000, by way of 10 scholarships given in Lotta’s name to students from developing countries to study abroad for a year.

As Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau wrote to Lotta, “I am sure the spiritual rewards you have received from a life of selfless service to others are plentiful…It is also most appropriate that [this award] is one which gives to others the opportunity to build a better future for themselves.”

If anyone is aware of the names and stories of the 10 students who received scholarships in Lotta’s name, please pass them along and we’ll share them so others can learn from this too.

David Rain

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