When the Kalispell Sunrisers Lions Club first started providing vision-screening tests at schools across the Flathead Valley, a tumor was detected in a student’s eye, sending them to a hospital in Seattle immediately. Without the screening, it might not have been found in a timely manner and the student could have gone blind.
Seven years ago the Lions KidSight USA, a program for Lions Clubs International, began collaborating with Plusoptix, an eye examination-testing machine, to provide vision screeners for schools, daycares and parents across the nation. The Montana Lions Club screened 9,700 students last year.
“We screen 600 kids in three hours,” Kalispell Sunrisers Lions Club President Dave Falcon said.
The machine screens students for stigmatisms, near or far sightedness and other abnormalities, and the results will show either “pass” or “refer,” which are given to the school nurse or administrator.
If abnormalities are detected, the student is sent to Glacier Eye Clinic, and if a student’s family is unable to pay for a medical bill, the Lions Club helps cover the cost.
One of five clubs in the valley, including Columbia Falls, Evergreen, Kalispell and Whitefish, Lions Club members volunteer their time to help families in the community. The Sunrisers just finished their Northwest Montana Fair parking fundraising and they will soon work on a Christmas program where they take families shopping for the kids.
But while the Kalispell Sunrisers Lions Club, named for its early meeting time at 6:30 a.m., is dedicated to serving the community, Falcon says they are looking for new members.
“We’re always looking for new members,” he said. “If we don’t have the help and can’t get new members, this club could die.”
For more information, visit the Kalispell Sunrisers Lions Club Facebook page.