Wednesday, 19 November 2014 15:09

Swift Current optometric practice raises record amount to help avoid blindness

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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A promise to shave their hair if Optical Image in Swift Current reaches a fundraising goal became reality on Nov. 3 for Dr. Sasha Godenir and optician Trent Tallon.

Optical Image aimed to surpass the highest total raised last year by an optometric practice in Canada for Optometry Giving Sight.
The total of $13,220 raised during October did not only beat last year’s Canadian record of $10,051 but it is also the largest amount ever raised in the world by an optometric practice for Optometry Giving Sight.
Their heads were shaved during an informal gathering of friends and supporters to celebrate their achievement.
“We’re so excited to be a part of this and to have such awesome support from the community,” Godenir said afterwards. “You can tell by the attendance tonight. We just have great support, which is so cool.”
This was the second year Optical Image participated in this fundraising initiative for Optometry Giving Sight, which aims to eliminate avoidable blindness by the year 2020 through the provision of optician services to people in developing countries.
“It’s a really awesome initiative,” she said. “So they’re training people, they’re providing jobs, and they’re providing sustainable practices and clinics that will be able to be financially independent within a few years. It’s pretty exciting and giving people the opportunity to have an eye exam and get a pair of glasses and to bring sight to those people that can’t really do a lot without their sight.”
For this year’s fundraising effort the staff at Optical Image started an internal challenge to break last year’s highest total for an optometric practice in the country.
“We decided we would provide a wager for being that successful and getting that much co-operation and compassion from the community,” she said.
Tallon agreed to shave his head if the initiative hit the $5,000 mark and she would do the same if the total reached $10,051.
“Here we are, it’s a reality,” she said with a laugh. “About a week ago, we were only at the halfway mark ... and the last week, people really stepped up. We had some great big donations, including the (Innovation) Credit Union, and lots of private donors as well. So it’s been just awesome.”
It required individual and collective effort from Optical Image staff to reach the highest total in the world by an optometric practice.
“Part of the program is World Sight Day, which encourages optometrists themselves to donate a day’s worth of eye exams,” she said. “So I and Dr. Block both were a part of that.”
During the month of October the practice donated $5 from every frame sold towards this fundraiser.
“Then people just were willing to top up the donation when we told them we were donating $5 of the frame,” she said.
They also held bake sales during the month and according to Godenir, the staff members were very creative.
“We had everything from eyeballs with forks in them to yummy goodie treats and monster cupcakes and everything in-between,” she said.
“They’re very creative and participated wholeheartedly and the stuff sold out immediately off the table as it was brought in, so that was really great.”
Their final fundraising effort during October was a Facebook auction that included donated items as well as products from the store.
“We had some companies as well in the optical world that stepped up and donated some great things for us to be able to auction and donate the money towards Optometry Giving Sight,” she said.
Innovation Credit Union presented a cheque of $1,000 to Optical Image on the final day of the fundraiser and the Credit Union’s Michelle Wiebe was given the task of shaving Tallon’s head.
Godenir’s husband, Rej Stringer, was responsible for shaving her head. She tied her hair in ponytails and donated her locks of hair to Locks of Love.
“I just thought, a last-minute thought, I might as well do something with this long hair so people that have hair loss disease or hair loss from secondary disease like chemo from cancer and that sort of thing would be able to benefit,” she said. “It’s a children’s company, so my hair will hopefully be on a child’s head and make their day as well.”
She is happy that the record amount of $13,220 raised by Optical Image can make a real difference to people with vision problems in developing countries.
“It only takes $5 to provide glasses and an eye exam to somebody,” she said. “That’s touching a whole lot of people. A thousand dollar provides an optometrist’s salary in one of these developing countries at one of these clinics and so there are so many great things that have come of this. To know how many lives are touched and how many opportunities are created by giving somebody sight is just super awesome.”

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