Greater Tulsa Reporter
AIDING SIGHT: Jenks optometrist Tom Vanderpool stands with an individual in Bimini, Bahamas, who has benefited from the services of Vision for Children Charitable Foundation, which provides eyecare and eyeglasses to those in need on the island and in northeastern Oklahoma. The nonprofit organization will hold its third annual fundraiser Sept. 15 at Spain Ranch, 732 E. 116th St., in Jenks.
A little over eight years ago Dr. Tom Vanderpool (a local Jenks optometrist) went on a fishing trip to Bimini, Bahamas, with a few of his buddies. What he expected to be some down time with friends and relaxing in a beautiful location was spoiled by an unexpected storm. Because of that storm, and Vanderpool’s curiosity, many children in the Bahamas can see better today.
On that rainy day when the fishing was terrible, Vanderpool decided to venture into the town looking for the local optometrist, but after visiting with the townspeople he learned that they did not have one. The island’s medical system does not provide eye care for any of its citizens, and optometric care is only available on the islands of Freeport and Nassau. In order for the people of Bimini to receive care, they must travel on a boat or plane to one of the two other islands. Because of this, almost no child on the island had ever had an eye exam.
Since then, Vanderpool and his wife, Susan, have been inspired to help those children in Bimini and have returned to the island for the last eight years at least one month every year. These return trips have resulted in over 2,000 vision screenings, nearly 1,000 full eye exams, and over 500 pairs of glasses made and delivered at no cost to the child or their family. What was once a personal mission, funded by the doctor and some of his business colleagues has grown into the Vision for Children Charitable Foundation (VFC) a 501©(3) nonprofit organization.
In an effort to expand their mission, Vanderpool and VFC are holding the third annual fundraising benefit on September 15 at Spain Ranch in Jenks. The funds raised at this event will be used to continue care in the Bahamas and to expand their giving to the children of northeastern Oklahoma. “Our goal is to eventually have a network of doctors and individuals throughout Oklahoma who can refer to us when they find a child who cannot afford the glasses they desperately need” says Susan Vanderpool.
Tickets to the Vision for Children fundraiser are $50 per person. Included with the ticket price are an open wine bar and food crawl that will feature items from local restaurants and vendors. Attendees will also be able to participate in a silent auction, live auction, wine ring toss, and other fundraising games. For further information, to purchase tickets, or to make a donation, please visit giveachildvision.com.