Lisa, a seeing eye dog in training from The Seeing Eye.
Del Negro & Senft Eye Associates had the pleasure of participating in the Mitchell Vassar Vision Awareness Day at Addison Park on Wednesday night. We enjoyed meeting all attendees and answering eye care questions, as well as providing educational material. The evening, which was grounded in a message of hope and overcoming adversity, was organized by Meridian Health and made possible by the Mitchell-Vassar Bright Future Legacy.
Thanks to the Mitchell-Vassar gift, we have been able to meet and educate many people throughout the community through programs that promote vision education and awareness.
The first speaker, Dr. Stacy Doumas, stressed healthy living and described treatments for coping with stress that escalates beyond what we normally face on a regular basis during her talk, “Triumphing Over Adversity.” Recognizing the signs and having a strong medical and emotional support system is the ideal way to treat anxiety and/or depression.
The keynote address was a true inspiration. Molly Burke proudly stated that she wouldn’t change the fact that she went blind from Retinitis Pigmentosa, because it truly shaped the person she has become. Her perky spirit could not gloss over the emotional darkness she overcame to eventually see the hope born out of that struggle. Standing on the podium next to her guide dog, Gallop, she eagerly revealed her personal struggles – first, she recounted that around the age of 13 or 14, she found herself on the losing end of vicious attacks from bullies in school right around the time she lost her sight forever; then, again at 28, when she injured herself at a sound check during one of her events, which sadly coincided with the sudden death of her best friend and original guide dog, Gipsy. These extreme events did not define her; rather, the way that she overcame her adversity is a true testament to her hopeful spirit. She detailed the difficult mental struggle that led her to help others in the community: “I took my voice back from the non-believers – taken from bullies and mental illness.” In closing, she urged the audience to “invite support in” because “there’s strength in asking for help.” A truly poignant message from someone who rose from a “dark hole” to become the successful motivational speaker she is today.
Throughout the evening the room was anchored by 20 resource participants who shared information about service, support and treatment options to improve the overall quality of life for those who are in need of such services.