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Sunday, January 26, 2020

A trip to the Wisconsin Lions Eye Bank

Several months ago, I took advantage of a wonderful opportunity to tour the Wisconsin Lions Eye Bank located in Madison, Wisconsin. I'm a member of the Muskego Lions Club, and our club's current co-presidents arranged for a bus trip there.

You may have heard of Lions clubs. They are community service clubs made up of volunteers from all walks of life who do amazing work in the communities they serve. Perhaps your hometown has one. Depending on the size of your town, you may have more than one. Maybe you have relatives or family friends that are members of a Lions club.

Anyways, one of the main things Lions as a whole worldwide is known for is its incredible charitable work having to do with eyesight. Many local clubs, like our club here in Muskego, conduct free vision screenings in schools to help identify challenges students have or may eventually face so that they can get the corrective help that they need (like further testing, prescription eyeglasses, and so on). Many local clubs also participate in a program that collects used eyeglasses. The glasses are shipped off to facilities where they are cleaned, repaired, and processed, and from there sent to countries around the world, where they are given to people who otherwise can't afford to buy eyeglasses. We're proud to participate in this program, as well.

But it's the network of eye banks that the Lions run that is perhaps the most fascinating and awe-inspiring component of its overall efforts to the cause of sight. The Wisconsin eye bank is just one of many such banks operated and funded by Lions.

In short, the Lions eye bank works with a number of hospitals, funeral homes, and other community partners and resources to collect eye tissue from those who have sadly passed on and expressed the desire to be donors. Because eye tissue must be quickly harvested from the deceased and then quickly transplanted into a recipient, an extensive network of volunteers is always on call, ready to go at a moment's notice, to transport donated tissue to where it needs to go. Many of the clubs in the state, like the Muskego Lions Club, take turns every month or every several weeks to wait on standby. You never know when a call is going to come in, and volunteers must be willing and ready to travel in the middle of the night, if necessary.

Touring the Wisconsin Lions Eye Bank, for me, was an incredible experience. It served as an uplifting reminder of just how many good people there are in the world, and it's a testament to the power of volunteer work; of really making a difference in the lives of others. When people from all walks of life come together with their minds and talents, anything is truly possible. 

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