Region 4 Lions work together to assist student who is blind
Tom O'Neil from Mobile Optical Services helps Dominic Odom set up his new Da Vinci. From left are: Andrew Muha, Shade Lions treasurer; Joyce Cerula, a member of the Shade Lions; Dan Barta, Shade Lions Club secretary; Robin Stemple, Lions Zone chairman; Barry Boyer, Stoystown Lions Club secretary; and Ruby Ellen Berkebile, Stoystown Lioness Club president. (Submitted photo / April 30, 2013)
Davis indicated that 4th grader, Dominic Odom was having success in school with reading and other tasks using a video magnifier called the Da Vinci. This device not only magnified print materials, it also allowed Dominic to see his teacher in the front of the room and other distant objects, such as the blackboard.
In addition, the Da Vinci could scan print material and convert it into speech. The problem was Odom didn't have access to the Da Vinci at home, so doing homework and many other tasks was much more difficult.
Davis indicated that the Da Vinci cost $3,200 from Mobile Optical, a supplier from Pittsburgh, however, she had only $700 available for in-home modifications. Stemple thought the Lions could help, but said it might take some time.
Davis indicated that there were just no other options available. Stemple told her that he would contact the Lions clubs in the area and see what he could do.
Stemple started by calling Dan Barta, the secretary of the Shade Lions club, to see what it could commit. He also made a request to his own club, the Stoystown Lions Club. Both clubs immediately pledged $500 toward the purchase. Setting his goal at $2,500 to add to the $700 BBVS could spend, Stemple then sent a letter out to the 14 Lions Clubs in Region 4 of District 14M, which takes in all of Somerset County.
Winter weather and club meeting schedules notwithstanding, contributions from the clubs around the county began to come in. A total of $2,750 was collected, exceeding Stemple's goal by $250. Davis was able to use $450 of her available $700 to make up the difference. She indicated that the remaining $250 would be used to meet Odom's other needs.
The Da Vinci was delivered to Odom's home in Central City April 18, with several Lions on hand to make the presentation.
"Dominic was very excited turning the Da Vinci on and starting to use it immediately," Stemple said. "He turned the camera around so he could see his guests, remarking that one of the Lions had a yellow hat."
Clubs supporting the project included the Shade, Stoystown, Hooversville, Connumach, Boswell, Somerset, Laurel Hill, Confluence and Meyersdale Lions clubs, as well as the Stoystown Lioness Club. Davis indicated that she was extremely grateful to the Lions Clubs for their assistance, as was Dominic and his family.
He is being raised by his grandparents, David and Tina Devroy. His vision loss is as a result of cortical vision impairment, which occurred as a result of being shaken as an infant. His vision is 20/500.
Stemple, who is blind himself, said, "It's very gratifying to receive the support of our local Lions Clubs for this vision-related project. It exemplifies the Lions commitment to continue as 'Knights of the Blind,' a challenge they took on in 1925 when Helen Keller spoke at the organization's International Convention."