Spreading the Word About Tetanus

John MayfieldJohn Mayfield is being honored as a Champion of Change for his Kiwanis International service. 

About 25 years ago, my life turned around. I once battled drug and alcohol addiction. I often didn’t take advantage of positive opportunities and suffered consequences for my actions. I knew I needed to change, so I started inviting God into my life and asking his will for me. He gave me the knowledge about how to change. I got sober, and everything just fell into place.

Ever since, I’ve found fulfillment through philanthropy. I live in Ashland City, Tennessee, and I’m proud to support local charities and causes. For instance, I own Mayfield’s Book Store, where all proceeds from the used books go to support the John E. Mayfield Charitable Foundation. Students at Nashville State Community College study and conduct research at the John E. Mayfield Library. For the past decade, graduating 4-H members have been named John E. Mayfield Scholars.

I’m also a member of my local Kiwanis club. My father had been a Kiwanian before me, but I didn’t know much about Kiwanis International as an organization when I joined in 2007. It ended up changing my life. One big reason is the unbelievable people I’ve met. With Kiwanis, a great example of good people working for a good cause is The Eliminate Project, which is raising money for the vaccines, supplies and education that will help eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus among some of the world’s poorest and hardest-to-reach families.

When I gave a donation to the campaign, I was thinking, “How can I change the world?” With just me, it wouldn’t go very far. But with Kiwanis, UNICEF and country governments working together, it can.

Last November, I was honored to be part of a Kiwanis International delegation that traveled to Sierra Leone to witness MNT elimination efforts in hard-to-reach rural villages. In the town of Bo, we visited a pilot program at a local school where adolescent girls received their tetanus vaccinations. I held four girls’ hands while they got their shots. Some were scared and others were brave, but all of them realized the importance of this vaccine. That experience will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Now I’m committed to telling that story. I talk to Kiwanis clubs in communities outside my own, spreading the word about tetanus, how it can be stopped and how The Eliminate Project is a great opportunity for people like us to change the world. I can honestly say that the campaign has been another of those life-changing experiences I’ve been so lucky to have.

I’m thrilled to receive the Champions for Change award. It’s an honor to be recognized.

John Mayfield is the Charter President of the Cheatham County Kiwanis Club and current lieutenant governor for Division 14 of the Kentucky-Tennessee District of Kiwanis International

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