Lions Vision Awareness Week was held last week at the Bemidji State University football game, at which Jim Gorman, a longtime Lion, will serve as honorary captain.
Gorman, of Blackduck, is nearing the end of his six-year term on the Minnesota Lions Eye Bank Board of Directors. The Eye Bank provides donor eye tissue for transplant and research. The board oversees its operation.
"It's rather interesting," Gorman said of serving on the Eye Bank board.
He said it is always interesting and fun to go to board meetings and hear the stories of the people whose lives are being improved through the work of the Eye Bank.
Gorman, a member of the Blackduck Lions Club, joined the organization about a dozen years ago, give or take.
"A friend asked me to join, and you know how that goes, one thing leads to another," he said.
Lions International has long been dedicated to helping visually impaired and blind people. In 1925, according to its website, Helen Keller spoke to members at their annual convention and challenged them to become "knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness."
And they have been working toward that ever since.
Gorman himself got more actively involved in that goal years ago when the Lions began planning a golf scramble for a Blackduck seventh-grader who needed a new glass eye.
The scramble raised several thousands of dollars, he said.
His work on the scramble earned him the Lions' Helen Keller Award, which is given to honor those who have distinguished themselves on behalf of sight.
"That was a shock," Gorman recalled. "I didn't know it was coming."
Then, in 2005, he was named to the Eye Bank board. Minnesota has 11 Lions districts, and each has two board members.
Gorman is proud of the work done by the Eye Bank, which is affiliated with the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Minnesota. Gorman said is one of the top-rated eye banks in the world.
The Eye Bank has helped restore sight to more than 22,000 people, according to its website.
His six-year term is up in April; Lions only serve one term on the board.
"Absolutely it is rewarding," Gorman said. "Very rewarding."
Lions vision week
This week is Lions Vision Awareness Week. A variety of events are planned throughout the week.
Free vision screening for all ages will be done from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10, at Sanford Eye Services, 1611 Anne St. N.W. Screening will be conducted by local eye care providers. Free brats, chips, and pop will be served by BSU football players.
BSU football coach (and Lions member) Jeff Tesch will speak at the noon meeting of the Lions on Wednesday, Oct. 12.
Lion Mel Milender will be the master of ceremonies at the Beaver Pride luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Oct 14, at Walnut Hall on the BSU campus.
Then, the week will end with the Lions Vision Game at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct 15, as BSU faces Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Eyeglass donation boxes will be at the stadium gates that day to collect used eyeglasses from fans attending the game.