Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Lifestyles

June 5, 2014

Foundation presents $10,000 to VIS Group

CROSSVILLE — One hundred attendees of the recently held InSight on Vision Conference were overwhelmed with gratitude to the Macular Degeneration Foundation, when Liz Trauernicht, president and director of communications, awarded the Visually Impaired Support (VIS) Group of Cumberland County with a check for $10,000.

Trauernicht lauded the VIS Group’s activity in and around the Crossville area, stating, “This community is so fortunate to have such an active support group for the blind and visually impaired. Believe me, there are much larger cities in this country that do not have the participation and community outreach as this group demonstrates.” 

Because Cumberland County has an increased number of retired residents, age-related macular degeneration levels are higher than average. According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, age-related chronic eye disease is caused by abnormal blood vessels that leak fluid or blood into the center of the retina, leading to vision loss.

The Macular Degeneration Foundation was the first national organization dedicated to the support and education of those suffering from macular degeneration. Edmund Alexandrovich, who found himself frustrated by the disease because he couldn’t find support or appropriate vision aids, spearheaded the organization in 1992. The foundation received national recognition on the ABC show "20/20" with Barbara Walters in 1997. This episode brought wide acclaim to the Macular Degeneration Foundation, becoming the springboard for all its efforts: support, education, advanced technology devices and medical research. Through all its growth and success, the foundation remains true to those whom the organization was formed — those affected by macular degeneration. 

Trauernicht keeps subscribers abreast of news-breaking information by publishing the foundation’s newsletter, "The Magnifer." (You may receive this quarterly publication free-of-charge by calling or subscribing online at www.eyesight.org.) She answers questions and offers support for the macular degeneration patients that call on the toll-free line: 1-888-633-3937.

The moderator for the InSight on Vision Conference was Mary Jane Chiomos, a loyal VIS Group member. Mary Jane started the program by introducing the president of the Tennessee Council of the Blind, Dan Dillon. Dillon, who has been blind for more than 50 years, is a talented musician. Dillon opened the conference with the song "Try a Little Kindness." This set a good tone for the program’s introduction.

Adding to the success of the InSight on Vision Conference were the interesting and informative presentations by David W. Litchford, MD; Cory J. Bosanko, OD, FAAO; Bruce D. Gilliland, OD; John M. Pino, OD, PhD; Tennessee Rehabilitation Services’ Jean Southard; Enhanced Vision’s Paul Day; Eschenbach Optik’s Stacy Fortney; and Trauernicht. Subjects covered were eye health, smartphone applications, low-vision driving, nutrition, Tennessee services and low vision devices and equipment. Every evaluation that was filled out by a visually challenged attendee rated the conference as excellent, noting its informative content, professional materials and delivery.

InSight on Vision Chair Margie DeMars stated, “We are a 100-percent volunteer group. We are well pleased and feel this second InSight on Vision Conference was a success. As for our speakers, I have heard from many of them in a most positive light. The VIS Group and I thank each of them for their topic preparedness, professional countenance and the trust they have placed in us. You have all taken on a wonderful undertaking — imparting education and hope for those with poor vision. Thank you!

"Of course, we in the VIS Group were overwhelmed with emotion when Liz unexpectedly presented us with the $10,000 check," she added. "The VIS Group takes this donation seriously, knowing in faith they have entrusted us with an obligation. The VIS Group will wisely continue planning community outreach and member services.”

In closing, while strumming his guitar, Dillon sang "You’ve Got a Friend." This was a good song in parting. You have a friend in the VIS Group. Come and join them!

Paul Day of Enhanced Vision had donated a Mini Pebble, valued at $300. The lucky winner was Lucille Frady of Crossville. Frady was overcome with emotion when presented with this wonderful digital magnifier. Trauernicht awarded Peter Wotowiec of Pikeville with a Tony Digital Magnifier. This device projects enlarged print onto a television screen and has a value of $125. Wotowiec states that he is really enjoying using the device and that he is very thankful.

“We are a participating partner of the United Fund of Cumberland County. We are grateful to them for their continued support of all our programs, including this second InSight on Vision Conference,” stated Linda Simmons, VIS Group president.

The next meeting of the VIS Group will be Thursday, June 12, at the Sonshine Soup Kitchen, 69 Neecham St. in Crossville at 9:30 a.m. The speaker will be Janis Holt, MD of Cumberland Eye Care, Fairfield Glade. Recently, Dr. Holt has performed several eye surgeries, including corneal transplants. All the meetings are open to the public. For people who couldn’t attend the InSight on Vision program, materials of interest will be available. Coffee and pastry are always provided.

Please support the VIS Group’s next fundraiser: A Trip Down Memory Lane on Saturday, June 21, at the Palace Theatre at 7 p.m. Performers will be Memory Road, a premiere oldies duo featuring Dennis Hill and Gibbs Lukoskie, plus Frank Saxton, Terri Utsey and Jim Pitts.

The VIS Group's motto is "Keep Your Eyes on Us… We’re Going Places!" Contact Margie DeMars at 456-6758 or margie.d@frontier.com for more information.

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