UIWRSO students, faculty, staff, friends and family came to enjoy the InfantSEE event on Friday, September 26. It was in a beautiful venue on main campus, and everyone was dressed for the occasion. It was a great event to bring awareness to the InfantSEE program and see how blindness has affected one talented individual, Mr. Tom Sullivan. As I sat in the crowd and listened to the InfantSEE statistics from Dr. Glen Steele, I was amazed by the stories of children whose lives were saved from this program. Tons of “awws” came from the crowd as we saw pictures of children who participated in the program and were essentially saved by it. Tom Sullivan was next, and he was an amazing performer. He called all of the students in the crowd “future eye doctors” and addressed us as such for the remainder of the event. He made everyone laugh, cry, and just feel great about the program. It is so wonderful to see someone make the best of a situation and share their experiences.
I asked several of the students what they felt about the InfantSEE program and event, and if they believe they will be involved in the program after they graduate from UIWRSO. Here were some of the comments I heard throughout the night:
“I had heard about InfantSEE in my undergrad program, but this event helped me to get more details about it, and now I am pledging to participate in InfantSEE when I graduate.”
“Tom Sullivan is an inspiration for us all. We, as students, can make a difference and prevent blindness from happening.”
“This was a great way for faculty and students to come together. I can personally say that it was incredible to see our professors promote this kind of program because we look up to them. Watching them be involved in something so important makes me realize how important it is, as well.”
“I never thought of myself as such an integral part in someone’s overall health. Most people just think we check their eyes, and that’s the end of it. We need to raise more awareness of this program, and the easiest way to do that is be providers ourselves.”
“I am privileged to be part of a school that believes in and promotes such an amazing program.”
When asked the question “Will you be an InfantSEE provider when you graduate?” 100% of the students I asked said, “Yes.” You could not have asked for a better outcome from the event. The program and the event personally moved me, as well. I pledge to be an InfantSEE provider when I graduate and have my own practice. To know that you could prevent blindness and even save a child’s life just by giving a pediatric eye exam moves me beyond words.
Last photo courtesy of James DeMarco.