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Local Optometrist Continues Efforts in Bahamas

By BLAKE AUSTYN
Contributing Writer

MUCH-NEEDED EYE CARE: Jenks optometrist Dr. Tom Vanderpool examines a child in Bimini, Bahamas. Vanderpool and his wife, Susan, formed Vision for Children Charitable Foundation (VCF) after learning of the lack of eye care available to citizens of the island.


Local Optometrist Continues Efforts in Bahamas


Local nonprofit Vision for Children Charitable Foundation (VCF) will hold its fourth annual fundraiser, A Gala of Sight, on Sept. 7 at Spain Ranch, 732 E. 116th St., in Jenks.

The funds raised at this event will be used to continue the mission of Jenks optometrist Dr. Tom Vanderpool, his wife, Susan Vanderpool, and their foundation, to provide eye care to children 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.

The seeds for the formation of VCF were planted 10 years ago after Dr. Tom Vanderpool visited Bimini, Bahamas, on a fishing trip. What he expected to be some down time with friends and relaxation in a beautiful location was spoiled by an unexpected storm. Because of that storm, Vanderpool decided to travel into town, looking for the local optometrist. However, 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,” he says.
“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.”

Vanderpool returned home from his trip inspired and, since that time, has returned to the island for one month each year with Susan and their son to provide eyecare and eyeglasses to needy children.

Their trips have resulted in more than 2,000 vision screenings, over 1,000 eye exams, and over 500 pairs of glasses made and delivered at no cost to the children or their families.

Tickets to the Vision for Children fundraiser are $100 per person; dinner is included. There will also be silent and live auctions and other fundraising activities.
For further information or to purchase tickets, visit giveachildvision.com.

Updated 09-18-2017

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