EYECARE: A Greater Vision Optical Industry Joins Forces to Take Up World Sight Day Challenge By Staff Wednesday, November 21, 2012 12:00 PM RELATED CONTENT Companies Raise Funds and Awareness for WSD Challenge DENVER—The World Sight Day Challenge, which officially began on Oct. 11 and ran throughout the entire month of October, elicited a wide-ranging and enthusiastic response from many different sectors of the optical community including eyecare practices, optical companies and industry organizations throughout North America. The initiative is part of a year-round mission “to improve the quality of life of people who are needlessly blind or vision impaired simply because they do not have access to an eye exam and a pair of glasses.” “There has been a fantastic response to the World Sight Day Challenge, with successful fundraising across practices, schools and companies throughout North America,” according to an announcement from Optometry Giving Sight (OGS). From fun runs, bake sales, raffles, carnivals, giving trees, patient donations, personal donations as well as practices donating eye exam fees or a small sum for every pair of glasses sold in the month of October, many eyecare practices embraced the Challenge. “Over 500 doctors, staff and practices participated with thousands joining in through their workplace and team fundraising,” the organization said. The optical industry also joined in with 15 companies hosting workplace fundraising activities, with many companies reporting that these events built social responsibility and goodwill within their respective corporate cultures. See related story here. Springfield Eye Clinic staff get their running shoes on! “The World Sight Day Challenge is perhaps the most unifying event in the eyecare profession crossing all areas from the dispensary and the exam chair to the front desk as well as industry and colleges,” said Dr. Mary Anne Murphy, Chair of Optometry Giving Sight USA. “As we join together to meet the Challenge, we are reminded of the tremendous global scale the profession faces to end refractive error blindness.” On a positive note, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported in 2011 that the numbers of blind and vision impaired had been reduced by 10 percent globally. Optometry Giving Sight said that due to the support it is receiving from the World Sight Day Challenge that it will be able to fulfill its commitment to fund 42 projects in 24 countries this year, a sizable increase from the 18 projects it supported in 16 countries in 2011. Two of these projects are funded in the U.S. and six are in Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Argentina. Dr. Murphy said highlights of the 2012 campaign include the World Sight Day Challenge 5K Run, which was organized by Springfield Vision Clinic in Missouri. The 5K run raised nearly $5,000 and was a terrific opportunity to publicize the charitable efforts of Dr. Katie Robertson McElvaine and associate Dr. Stephen Rice as the race finished with a celebration at their clinic location, according to Murphy. “The 5K was fun and easy to do!,” said Dr. McElvaine. “Our staff was energized and unified by such a great event to support the World Sight Day Challenge. What better team builder than a project that builds community locally and helps people improve their lives globally?” Desmone Family Eye Care Triathletes for Sight. Another practice that took to the outdoors to raise funds was Desmone Family Eyecare, who participated in the Emerald Isle Triathalon. Dr. John and Dr. Barb urged their friends, patients, and other network doctors to support their efforts. “Remember the uncharged visit, that extra pair of trial lenses, the Saturday night office visit and the other favors—and make a donation to Optometry Giving Sight,” they posted on their Facebook page. “Dr. Barb and I are about to jump into the cold, rough, Atlantic Ocean. We set a goal of $500 and have raised more than $770 to give sight.” Optometric networks also rose to the Challenge but none more enthusiastically than the United Eyecare Providers Network in Chicago. The entire Board of Directors, urged by the generosity of executive director Jayne Kuhlanek have become monthly givers in a ‘lead by example’ challenge to the 100 doctors in the network. Other networks that encouraged all their members to participate included Vision Source, Primary Eyecare Network, IDOC and Rx Optical. Executive Director Jayne Kuhlanek and Dr. Martin Sikorski, Chair of the Board of Directors of the United Eyecare Providers of Chicago, lead the way with generous monthly giving plans. In addition, 100 percent of the Optometry Schools in North America also staged fundraising events and students reached into their pockets to make donations for assorted desserts, coffee, pizza, raffles and to buy World Sight Day Challenge T-shirts. All the Colleges of Optometry in North America participated in the Student Challenge as well as several Pre-Optometry Clubs for a total of nearly 30 schools participating. At Salus University, Pennsylvania College of Optometry, students sold 100 T-shirts and raised $2,000. American Optometric Student Association Trustee, James Deom said, “As a student leader it was an honor to bring the World Sight Day Challenge to the students at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. Our students have a deep passion for service work both in our local neighborhood in Northeast Philadelphia and abroad. For many students it is almost unfathomable to believe that there are people on this earth that are effectively useless because they lack the clarity that a pair of spectacles would provide. Salus University, Pennsylvania College of Optometry students participate in the World Sight Day Student Challenge. “Yearly, many of our students join mission trips with organizations like sVOSH and VOSH and experience first hand, the disparity that exists in eye and vision care globally. This year, students and faculty were allowed to wear their World Sight Day shirts to the clinic during patient care the entire week of World Sight Day. This not only displayed our support for the global efforts spearheaded by Optometry Giving Sight, it also educated our patient population about the disparity that exists in eye and vision care throughout the globe," Deom said. The Arizona College of Optometry (AZCOPT) set the bar high by raising almost 10 times the amount that last year’s valiant efforts produced. Though comparably small in number, the students joined forces between all four classes. This year, AZCOPT’s AOSA teamed up with VOSH and started building “hype” many months in advance. Once WSD week arrived, fun events were planned for each day that included selling sweets, Candy Corn guessing jar, guess the Rx, and selling raffle tickets all week long for the HOYA donated iPad3. The students’ efforts raised nearly $1,700. Arizona College of Optometry planned fun-raising events all week long with included a HOYA donated iPad3 drawing. This year Optometry Giving Sight introduced platinum, gold, silver and bronze Award Levels to reward staff for their fundraising efforts. Dr. Lee Dodge from Sherman Oaks, Calif. said his staff had worked hard and raised over $400 from patients and were delighted to have received their Silver Award. “We thank everyone that participated in the Challenge this year and ask that practices, companies and schools remit their donations to Optometry Giving Sight by Nov. 30,” said Dr. Murphy. Anyone who has yet to make their donation can do so online at www.givingsight.org.