SUPPORTING A SUSTAINABLE CAUSE

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Missouri-based Vision Clinic raised $7,000 for Optometry Giving Sight participating in the annual World Sight Day Challenge with a 5K/10K/1 Mile Fun Run.

Benevolence.  Community involvement.  Making a difference.  Service above self. Not just random words, but the core of a culture. Fortunately for me, it is a culture that I am proud to be a part of. I am an optometrist and CEO of Vision Clinic, a five-location private practice in southwest Missouri.  We celebrated our 50-year anniversary last year, and as part of our year-long celebration, we reflected on all that we had accomplished and the impact we had on our surrounding communities. When each staff member was asked to list their top three not-for-profits, a compilation revealed that, collectively, we supported more than 100 different causes! Prominently among those causes was Optometry Giving Sight, our international charity of choice.

Like many optometrists, I had participated in a number of VOSH (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity) trips to South and Central America. As most would attest, these trips are impactful and life-changing. Witnessing and experiencing the enormous unmet need of eyecare was very top-of-mind when, in 2007, I first heard Professor Brien Holden describe his Optometry Giving Sight vision. The saying, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime,” resonated with me that day. As rewarding as VOSH trips were, I always felt like we were putting a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. Professor Holden’s vision made all the sense in the world to me. Bringing the global optometric community together to help end avoidable blindness and vision impairment was a cause that truly hit home. When I brought this message back to my doctors and staff, they wholeheartedly embraced Optometry Giving Sight and World Sight Day. 

Vision Clinic has enthusiastically contributed to, and participated in, World Sight Day since 2007. We started out small, but we have grown in our involvement and commitment. Our staff has embraced this fundraising initiative, and they have gone above and beyond in helping us increase our yearly contribution. In fact, our 7th Annual Optometry Giving Sight/Vision Clinic 5K/10K/1 Mile Fun Run raised more than $7,000 to help bring eyecare to those who are desperately in need. In addition to raising funds, we raised awareness. Community sponsorships, registration fees, and fun fundraising ideas throughout the month allowed our patients and our community to contribute to the cause.

I often hear from my colleagues that they are “not-for-profit weary.” Sadly, the worthy causes that need our help seem limitless, but we choose to do what we can do to help. Locally, my benevolent staff amazes me every day in the countless causes in which they are involved. They truly are inspiring, and that ever-present inspiration leads us to come together for World Sight Day to collectively contribute to an international cause that seems tailor-made for an optometry practice’s participation. We feel good about the difference we are making in the fight to end avoidable blindness and vision impairment by partnering with Optometry Giving Sight and participating in the annual World Sight Day Challenge. To say that I am proud of what my amazing staff and doctors do to make a difference on this front is an extreme understatement!

Stephen R. Rice, OD, is an optometrist and CEO of Vision Clinic, a five-location private practice in southwest Missouri. For more information about Optometry Giving Sight and how you can participate in the World Sight Day Challenge, a fall campaign focused on the second Thursday of every October, please go to GivingSight.org or call 303.526.0430. A collaboration between Optometry Giving Sight and Vision Care Product News, this article is the beginning of series leading up to World Sight Day 2019.

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