The '49er Ball safeguards sight for millions
Circling the Square
By Ceci Clover, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
February 20, 2013
Yvonne Dorsey sent news of the surprise birthday she and son Evan gave for husband John on Jan 29. No word of which number birthday it was, but it sounds like a good time was had by all. The festivities were in the Virginian Restaurant, where 26 of John’s friends, both past and present, joined the family for appetizers, wine and a fine dinner. Later, as a joke, Evan brought over a blowtorch to ignite the candles on John’s birthday cake: Bruce Beckstead had a fire extinguisher on hand. John received many funny presents and loads of good wishes.
Also from Yvonne came exciting news about the longest-running event in Jackson Hole. This year marks year number 117 for the ’49er Ball, which takes place Saturday in the Virginian Lodge and Convention Center. The fun begins at 7 p.m. and includes dance lessons by the fine folks at Dancers’ Workshop, gambling, a costume contest and a silent auction.
The Kenny Bradbury Band takes the stage at 8 and the queen of the ball will be crowned at 9. This year’s queen candidates are Amanda Beckett, Chesney Harris and Erica Smith.
Tickets for this long-running gala cost $15 in advance from any one of the queen candidates or $20 at the door. You can contact your favorite queen candidate to purchase your tickets: Beckett, 699-2657; Harris, 413-2593; Smith, 690-9308. Proceeds from the evening benefit the Jackson Hole Lions Clubs Eye Care Program.
Online information about Lions Clubs International eye care programs tells us that in 1925 Helen Keller challenged Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.” They accepted, and today sight programs remain one of the service club’s defining causes. For nearly 100 years, Lions Club International has worked on projects designed to prevent blindness, restore eyesight and improve eye health and eye care for millions of people worldwide. Lions have taken part in projects that have saved the sight of more than 15 million children by providing eye screenings, glasses and other treatments through Sight for Kids. Established or strengthened pediatric eye care centers have helped more than 120 million children. Lions also have helped train more than 650,000 eye care professionals and built 315 eye clinics.
Through efforts such as these and distributing more than 147 million treatments for river blindness, providing nearly 8 million cataract surgeries, vaccinating 41 million African children against measles (a leading cause of childhood blindness) and raising $415 million during the past 20 years to help provide vision for all, Lions have gained worldwide recognition for their work to improve sight and prevent blindness.
Lions Club members around the globe are also actively involved in supporting Lions Eye Banks that provide eye tissue for sight-saving surgeries, administering hundreds of thousands of adult vision screenings, and recycling eyeglasses at 18 worldwide centers.
According to the World Health Organization, 153 million people have uncorrected refractive errors (near-sightedness, far-sightedness or astigmatism). Most of these vision impairments are quickly diagnosed and easy to treat with corrective lenses. Yet, millions of people in developing nations are pushed deeper into poverty because they do not have glasses. They cannot learn because reading is difficult; they cannot work to the best of their ability because they cannot see clearly.
It costs Lions Club International less than 8 cents to provide a pair of recycled eyeglasses and change someone’s life.
Lions Club’s answer to this global need are eyeglass recycling centers in Australia, Canada, France, Italy, South Africa, Spain and the United States, where donated eyeglasses are shipped by local Lions Clubs. Other Lions volunteers prepare the glasses for distribution, and in turn ship large quantities of prepared glasses to distribution teams and supply Lions’ permanent clinics with an inventory of glasses that have been prepared for distribution to a new home.
For children, clear vision means a better education, healthier development and a better quality of life. For adults, it means greater employment opportunity and economic strength. For seniors it means less dependence on others. Donation of unused eyeglasses is free for the donor and priceless for the recipient.
I spent January in Ethiopia and was often asked for eye drops. I’d think, “Why eye drops?” Research for this column answered my question. They were hoping for more of the 10 million doses of sight-saving azithromycin that Lions Club International provides annually in their country to help halt the spread of trachoma. Think of the far-reaching effect your support of the ’49ers Ball will have!
Ceci Clover writes weekly on the doings and doers in and around Jackson Hole. Submissions may be sent to email@example.com or call 733-8348.