Lions Clubs donate cash to vision rehab center

Lions Clubs in Nebraska and Iowa will be recognized this weekend after donating $328,000 dollars to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. The money will be used for a variety of projects at the hospital’s Weigel Williamson Center for Visual Rehabilitation.

The center’s director, Dr. John Shephard, says the donation will help enhance services provided for people with low vision. Dr. Shephard says, “Right now, it’s estimated that there are 6.5 million Americans that are over the age of 65 struggling with low vision and that number is anticipated to double by the year 2030.”

The money is buying a Dynavision 2000, a device used to evaluate and treat visual field loss in stroke patients. The funds will also outfit an additional exam room, provide support for medical services and will fund awareness projects to better educate the public about the services available at the center for those with low vision.

Allen Darell, of the Nebraska Lions, notes this is the first time the two state clubs have teamed up to support a cause that’s important to the organization worldwide – the prevention of blindness. Darell says, “About ten years ago, Pat Jones and the low vision folks came to the Lions to see about what kind of help we could give them in fundraising across the state of Nebraska.”

Dale Shenefelt, of the Iowa Lions Club, says they helped to raise money through a variety of projects — including fundraiser bike ride and a 4th of July bingo booth. Shenefelt says, “We decided that this was the place to get ourselves involved and put our money as far as this kind of service is concerned and we now have several people that I know of who are getting appointments with the clinic here.”

In the center’s first ten months of operation, Dr. Shepherd says it’s provided services to nearly 350 patients, including more than 30 patients from Iowa. A ceremony planned for 1 PM Saturday at the center will recognize both clubs for their donation.