The Lions of Illinois Foundation Humanitarian Efforts
August 21, 2003
To: Darien Lions Club
From: Van C. Stone Executive Administrator Lions of Illinois Foundation
1. Cochlear Implant Program-In 1987, our Foundation contributed the initial start-up capital for a cochlear implant center at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center. The center is appropriately named after the Lions and a significant discount is given to Lions' sponsored individuals in need of a transplant. During the last six years, nearly 100 cochlear transplants have been completed at the center.
2. Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Program-For several years, the Lions of Illinois have screen high-risked individuals throughout Illinois for diabetic retinopathy. Because of Lions Clubs like Darien a significant number of our citizens have had significant retinal diseases detected through our program. For example, this year 113 people were discovered to have macular degeneration. These discoveries were in addition to the large number of people being detected with diabetic retinopathy and other retinal disorders. Since adding a digital imaging capability to the fundus camera resulting in greater picture clarity, we have seen a substantial increase in diagnoses of retinal abnormalities. In addition to PDG Wally Kistler's discovery of macular degeneration, PDG, PFP Joyce Schroeder was diagnosed with an abnormal epiretinal membrane causing blurring of vision. Simply put, this magnificent program is providing the early diagnosis required to save as much sight as possible for individuals suffering from retinal disorders. The certified audit for 2002 just received indicates that this magnificent program cost $73,317. Darien can justly claim that their performance on Candy Day significantly contributes to our ability to provide this service. It is important for every club to fully understand that this program can come to each community and test the high-risk population for absolutely no cost. I hope that Darien takes advantage of this program each and every time it is their turn.
3. Mobile hearing Unit-Each year 4,000-8,000 citizens of Illinois have their hearing tested free by visiting our hearing bus when it is brought into their community by the local lions. Last year, nearly 6,500 people availed themselves and according to our surveys of the clientele, nearly 40% of the people discovered they had a hearing loss for the first time! How exciting is that? Because the lions of Illinois care, thousands of our fellow citizens have been given the gift of knowing that a hearing problem exists and armed with that knowledge, measures can be taken to correct or arrest the condition. Two years ago, the hearing bus was completely refurbished and a "new rebuilt" engine was donated by the Caterpillar Foundation. Over the last seven years, over 46,000 people in Illinois have had their hearing tested absolutely free. Pursuant to the recently received audit, $81,282 was spent to deliver this program to the people of Illinois.
4. Low Vision Clinics-This nationally acclaimed program is divided into three separate parts. First, there is the "Seeing is Believing Program" which is a comprehensive program for partially-sighted children (children for whom 20/20) will never be an option. Dr. Tracy Williams, at the request of local school districts travels around the state providing truly miraculous services. I implore, beseech, no beg every Lions Club to go and watch (you don't have to work) and spend a half hour watching Dr. Tracy perform his miracles with these precious children. Find out why Mayo's, Nova Medical Center and others want to model a program after ours. If the Lions want to really get in touch with the pathos that serves as the rationale for our existence, I strongly suggest that everyone visit this program. Load up a van, car, truck, bus or other means of transportation and go! Have a Lion's payday! The Lions of Darien deserve it! The cost of this magnificent program last year was $112,947. If Clubs have any "extra" money or just want to support a program directly, a restricted donation to our Foundation for this program would be a God send. The second part of this program is the "Seeing is Believing" program conducted through the Chicago Lighthouse. It essentially mirrors the statewide program except it recognizes a self-imposed jurisdictional limit of the Chicago area. Dr. John Rimkus conducts the clinic on behalf of the Lighthouse with funding through our Foundation. The third part of this program is conducted by Dr. Darrold Taylor (Illinois College of Optometry) twice a year at the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired in Jacksonville. These students, like all that are seen in the other clinics, are severely visually impaired and these services are critically needed. Make no mistake! These programs are not merely an eye examination. They literally work with the hearts, and minds of the parents, teachers and the kids.
5. Infant Hearing Screening-The Lions of Illinois Foundation, our Foundation, was the first service organization in the United States to offer statewide infant hearing screening services to children 1 day to 5 years of age. During the last three years, thousands of infants and small children have had their hearing tested in a non-evasive way. Finding a hearing loss at this early age enables parents to obtain the necessary treatment and in over 90% of the cases where a hearing loss is present at these early ages, children will be able to "catch up" with their peers by the time they enter first grade. Changing the paradigm of children truly alters the course of history. This program cost $37,048 last year. That, of course, does not reflect the capital expenditure of $7,000 to acquire each unit.
6. Eye Glass Collection Program-We need more glasses! Each year, the Lions of Illinois provide 250,000-400,000 pairs of glasses to indigent people throughout the world. Last year we sent nearly 1 million glasses overseas. Medical missionaries take our glasses collected through the efforts of school children, local lions and the general population to third world countries and complete our gift of sight and, more importantly, our gift of hope. The cost of this program was $25,895 last year. One way of looking at it is that Darien paid the cost for us to collect, sort and provide these gifts of sight to people around the world. More and more missionaries are needing glasses to take overseas. Additionally, we have provided more than 225,000 pairs of glasses to Lions Clubs International over the last six months. If you have glasses, we would love to have them!
7. Hearing Aid Bank/Social Services-The people of Illinois who cannot afford hearing aids and/or glasses, or are needy of specialized treatment can access these services through these programs. Rather than describe these programs (you should have a brochure describing these and all of our services), let me simply tell you that hundreds of letters are received in this office from people in Illinois, thanking us for changing their lives for the better. Over $147,184 was spent connecting our needy citizens with the Lions Club in their area as well as facilitating the acquisition of needed services.
8. The Lions Eye Research Institute-Recently, the first retinal transplant took place in the Western Suburbs. The reason that it was performed in the Chicago area was because of our world renown Eye Research Institute. The magnificent research being conducted in our Lions Eye Research Institute is truly phenomenal. We all can be proud of what is being accomplished. We also receive a 50% discount (reduction) on treatment (hospital and doctor costs) of Lion sponsored individuals.
9. Camp Lions for Children and Adults- Each year hundreds of our precious children and adults attend our award-winning Camp Lions (winner of the Eleanor P. Eals Award). Our camp is unique in that it provides, as near as humanly possible, the same camping experience that "normal" children and adults can experience. It is virtually impossible to go to Camp Lions and not have your heart "touched" in a significant and wonderful way. From horseback riding to fishing, swimming to crafts, and from boating to cultivating new friends just like them, our Camp Lions provides a truly fantastic experience for the campers and for the Lions who take the time to go and see for themselves. According to the 2002 audit figures, it cost the Lions $211,283 to send hundreds of visually and hearing impaired children and adults to Camp Lions. Words cannot possibly describe the joy that is brought to our campers. Go and find out for yourselves!
The Lions of Illinois Foundation can be explored at http://www.lionsofillinoisfoundation.org
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