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Lions, Knights of Sight and so much more, Gross awarded Knight of Sight Fellowship

KNIGHT OF SIGHT — At the recent annual meeting of the Glen Hills Lions Club the Knight of Sight Fellowship was awarded to member Tryn Gross, she is pictured with club President Randy Hanson, left and District Govenor Jay Nesseth. Gross received the honor for her work with early vision screening. —photo submitted

By Carole Schurtz

GLENWOOD CITY —  At its recent annual meeting, the Glen Hills Lions Club awarded Tryn Gross with the Knight of Sight Fellowship for her dedication to early preventative eye screening.

Gross has been actively involved with the Glen Hills Lions since early 2018.

The Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin recognizes members that go above and beyond with the Knight of Sight Fellowship, which is presented in recognition of individuals who exemplify the Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin’s mission to give the Gift of Sight in Wisconsin, the United States and Internationally. 

A Knight of Sight is the Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin’s highest form of recognition that can be presented to an individual by a Lions Club. The Knight of Sight recipient’s name is prominently and permanently displayed on the Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin’s Knight of Sight Wall of Honor in Madison, Wis.

Vision is one of the many things we take for granted on a daily basis and is just one of the many important campaigns that Lions Club International (LCI) and the Glen Hills Lions Club supports. 

Type I diabetes

Gross lives in Glenwood City with her husband Jeff, and three bundles of chaos, Garrett, Gavin, and Trevor. 

She is the Health Office Assistant at Glenwood City School District, where she assists students with their health needs during the school year. 

When asked why she originally became involved with the Lions organization Tryn said, “I read an article in the Tribune in Fall of 2017 that focused on the Lions and one of their primary missions…helping children who have Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). Prior to reading that article, I had no idea how much the Lions community does for children with T1D.”

Before she read the article, Gross said she knew Glenwood City had a local Lions Club that did volunteer work but had never looked into any further.

“I have a son with T1D so I decided to find out what exactly the Lions do around the community. It took a few months and a couple of conversations with Dave and Joan Bartz, who were already Lions members, to make a final decision,” she said.

“Ultimately, I wanted to give back to an organization that would hopefully help my child someday…and help they very much did. The Lions provided the opportunity for our son to attend Camp Needlepoint, a camp designated solely for children with diabetes. His experience at Camp Needlepoint was only possible because of the Lions, and as parents, we are very grateful,” Gross said.

Knights of the Blind

Lions clubs all over the world “give sight.” They are recognized as Knights of the Blind through their work on behalf of the visually impaired. 

LCI accepted the challenge of Helen Keller to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness” in 1925 at their international convention and their work ever since has included sight programs aimed at preventable blindness.

They do this by conducting vision screenings, equipping hospitals and clinics, distributing medicine and raising awareness of eye disease. Lions work toward their mission of providing vision for all. They have extended their commitment to sight conservation through countless local efforts and through the international SightFirst Program, which works to eradicate blindness. 

Here in Wisconsin Lions are major contributors to the Lions Eye Bank of Wisconsin through donations and being transportation drivers for eye donation services to name just a few ways.

Regarding the vision screening, Tryn stated that she became involved, “because I love kids”. As the Health Office Assistant at the school, she had the opportunity to easily make sure students were screened at an early age.

“The kids see me every day, so they don’t realize it’s because of the Lions that we’re able to screen for seven common vision concerns. Having other Lions present helps give Lions the exposure they deserve for making this opportunity available to our district. I appreciate additional Lions members assistance during the screening process when their schedules allow it,” Tryn said.

The training to become a screener is conducted through Prevent Blindness Wisconsin. Gross attended a SPOT Vision Screener training seminar in September 2018 and obtained certification. A SPOT Vision Screener is the machine used to conduct the eye screening. 

The seminar included statistics and information regarding how many children are screened annually, and how many receive referrals to get a full examination. 

The SPOT vision screener may detect myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, anisometropia, strabismus, and anisocoria. It’s a more effective way to detect potential vision concerns than the traditional way of reading from an eye chart, which can be inadvertently memorized by youth.

Fellowship

Gross stated that she was unaware that she would be receiving the fellowship. 

“I had no idea I was receiving this honor. I’m both honored and humbled to be recognized, but must give credit where credit is due. Lion Wyatt Kreutzer of the Menomonie Lions is a huge player in all of the children in our area receiving vision screenings. There are two SPOT vision screeners available to our area and he ensures they’re working properly, works with area schools/daycares/etc to schedule and organize vision screenings. He does a fabulous job!” she said.

Gross went on to say, “It means a great deal to receive the Knight of Sight Fellowship. I was very much taken aback when receiving this recognition and I look forward to continuing assisting families in our district. The Lions offer financial assistance to families who may struggle with the cost of eye exams and/or glasses so their children can see clearly. Because…You can’t learn if you can’t see the board.”

Local contributions

It was also pointed out that the Glen Hills Lions Club contributes to the local community throughout the year in a variety of ways. 

During the 2023-2024 Lionistic Year the club has helped in the following ways: donating to the WestCAP Angel Fund – $100; vision screening at the Glenwood City Elementary School in the fall screening 350 students with 50 youth being flagged for additional testing; 50 youth screened during child development day; held a Fall Fest at the historic Peterson Farm; supported produce stands; donated to the United Methodist Church Coat Closet – $200.

In addition, the Glen Hills Lions Club delivered 145 fruit bags to elderly community members; donated to the WestCAP Holiday gift program – $250; participated in the Rustic Lore Days parade; donated to WI Lions Childhood Cancer Fund – $250; held a Spaghetti Supper Benefit for the Dikeman and Iverson families; sponsored local scholarships equalling $1,000; and collected prescription pill bottles and eyeglasses to be repurposed to those in need.

All of these are funded through local fundraising activities held throughout the year. The Glen Hills Lions hold an annual chicken dinner during Rustic Lore Days and meat raffles at the Blind Spot in Connorsville as well as selling produce from their community garden.

New members are always welcome to join the Glen Hills Lions.

If you are interested or know someone who would like to join the local Lions club, please contact a member, attend a monthly meeting, which are held on the third Sunday of each month at the Glenwood City Community Center at 6:30 p.m., or visit their Facebook page at GlenHills Lions Club.

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