Keynote speaker Aron Ralston, an experienced climber and avid outdoorsman, spoke to attendees at the Opening General Session of the 2018 Optometry's Meeting.

DENVER—Organizers of the 2018 Optometry’s Meeting report they went the extra mile to welcome attendees to the Mile-High City on June 20. Christopher J. Quinn, OD, outgoing AOA president, welcomed colleagues during the opening general session of the 121st Annual AOA Congress & 48th Annual American Optometric Student Association Conference. Dr. Quinn talked about the many opportunities, from continuing education to a professional-shaping AOA business agenda to invaluable networking. "More than anything, however, standing here this evening fills me with a strong sense of pride in being a doctor of optometry," Dr. Quinn said. "I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to serve our great profession as AOA president over the past year. It's been my privilege and a great honor to have been entrusted to lead the American Optometric Association.

"Providing essential health care to our patients and maximizing what is universally recognized as the most precious sense—sight—truly is a privilege," he added. "It's also a tremendous responsibility and that responsibility to our patients is paramount. Your AOA is working tirelessly to ensure that we can do that, every day. We face challenges on multiple fronts, but dedicated leadership, volunteers and staff work hard to protect our ability to practice, and to protect our patients from sub-standard care."

All states were represented at the flag ceremony during yesterday’s AOA House of Delegates at Optometry’s Meeting.

At the evening session, the organization recognized the contributions of several honorees. Award recipients were:

Optometrist of the Year: David Redman OD, of California, for outstanding service on behalf of the profession and the visual welfare of the public.

Young Optometrist of the Year:
Matthew Jones OD, of Arkansas, who demonstrated remarkable leadership when serving the profession, patients and community.

Paraoptometric of the Year: Carole Lovell CPOT, CPOC, of Wyoming, for her significant contribution to paraoptometry.

AOA outgoing president Christopher J. Quinn, OD, welcomes attendees to the 2017 Optometry’s Meeting.

Optometry Educator of the Year: Mark Swanson, OD, of Alabama, for outstanding service on behalf of the profession, optometric education and the visual welfare of the public.

Distinguished Service: Joseph Mallinger, OD, of California, for his unusually significant contributions to the profession of optometry.

Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Vision, the opening session also featured keynote speaker Aron Ralston, who captured international headlines in 2003 after a canyoneering accident left him trapped between two boulders in a remote location for more than five days.

Attendees walked away with a true appreciation for the power of the human spirit and the value of relationships to overcome life's challenges, no matter how large or daunting one's "boulder" may be. "Everyone has boulders in their lives," Ralston said. "Think about how your boulders could be a blessing. It is only through adversity that we find out what we're truly capable of."