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JoAnn’s Legacy Lives On

“My mom was truly one of a kind. She was the hardest working, most caring, selfless person I know. When she loved you, she loved you with everything and then some. There was standing room only in her memorial service. Everyone who met her was blessed to know her.

When I had kids of my own, they became her entire world. My daughter Addison still pats her heart and says, ‘my mom-mom’s here.’

When it came time to say goodbye, I knew without a second of hesitation that she would want to donate whatever she could to help others. I had to show my kids that during the darkest of times there’s still light, even if it’s light you make yourself.

Within 24 hours of her passing, I registered myself as a donor, and took my friend to the DMV to make sure she did the same.

My 7-year-old son Caleb said it best: ‘Two people can now see their loved ones through our loved one’s eyes’.”

–Jennie H., Greenwood, DE

Say “YES” to giving someone a second chance at life. Register as an organ and tissue donor at registerme.org

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Allen’s Legacy Lives On

“Allen was passionate about photography,” recalls Leah. “He had such an artistic eye.” In 2007, Allen was diagnosed as terminally ill from a recurrence of cancer. His loving wife of 25 years, Leah, helped her husband write down his final wishes during his last days of life. Something that was important to Allen was to be an eye, organ and tissue donor. Allen was saddened to learn that with his diagnosis of cancer, he was precluded from being an organ donor.

Upset with the news, Leah did further research and learned that cornea donation was still a possibility. “When we discovered Allen could donate both of his corneas, we cried tears of joy,” recalls Leah. After his death, Allen’s beautiful blue eyes helped two men in New Jersey see their loved ones again. Leah felt Allen’s decision of donation was also a gift to her. She was relieved Allen was no longer in pain and that something positive came out of their tragedy.

“Allen had photographs of everything,” says Leah. “He saw art everywhere. It seemed appropriate to me that his passion was the one thing that he was able to donate, his eyes and his view on the world. I was so thankful because I knew it was important to him.”

Allen was a character bigger than life itself. He was a very honest man. He was a civil rights advocate in the 1960s. He believed in and practiced tolerance. He became a grandpa, which is something that he wanted desperately for many years. His grandson, Benny, was born 16 months before Allen passed away.

Allen was very articulate and had an IQ of 135, which is the reason he was chosen to take military intelligence training when he enlisted in the army during the Vietnam era. His sharp sense of humor helped through the extreme stresses of his prolonged battle with cancer. Allen’s original thoracic surgery, when they removed a lung, was in 1999. He had a recurrence in 2007, which ultimately claimed his life and allowed him to fulfill his wish to pass on the gift of sight. 

Leah continues to honor her late husband Allen by being an advocate of eye, tissue and organ donation. She is a very active member of Gift of Life Donor Program’s Hearts of Gold Program, which is a volunteer group of donor family members who offer support to donor families whose loved ones have made the selfless decision to donate in their time of grief.

 

 
 

 

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Dave became a Lion in 1971; it will be 49 years in February. Despite relocating with his wife Sandy post retirement, he has remained a member of his original club, 22-D New Castle Hundred Lions Club for all these years. The goal he says, is to make it to the celebratory 50 year milestone there, and beyond. “It was my father-in-law,” Dave recounts “who initially asked me to become a member of the Lions Club. It was a natural fit,” he explains, as he was a member of his college’s service-based fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. “That experience in college is what turned me into the service-oriented person I am today.”

In 1984 Dave became District Governor, and in 1995, almost 20 years ago, Dave took his seat as a Board Member of Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley. Being a Lion is all about leading by example, building relationships and improving the world through kindness, and Dave does just that and then some. When asked about his motivation behind dedicating so much of his life to serving LEBDV’s mission he answered: “seeing firsthand the impact of providing someone with the gift of sight, that’s what this whole organization is founded on. Providing a service that is so beneficial to people. Giving someone their vision back, it’s incredible.”

In recent years Board Members have become even more involved with LEBDV’s events, and Dave is so thankful for this. He recalls attending his first Cornea Recipient Luncheon this past year and describes it as awe-inspiring. “Sitting down to have lunch and getting to talk with the family of a donor, and then getting a chance to meet with a recipient family, it’s really unbelievable.”

Continuing on the topic of getting to see the impact he has made firsthand, since moving to the Southern Delaware Area, Dave has teamed up with a group of Lions who build wheel chair ramps and accessible steps for handicap members of the community. “Just last week” he says, “we built a wide set of steps for a woman with her walker so she could easily go in and out of her house. When she opened the door, you could see the tears in her eyes when she realized that she is now able to get out of the house on her own.”

When Dave is not busy helping his community, he is spending time with his wife, Sandy, their 3 kids, 3 grandchildren, and 2 great grandchildren!

This is just a small sampling of all the amazing things Dave Jones has done during his time as a Lion and Board Member. Congratulations on celebrating almost 50 years Dave, we cannot wait to see what else you do!

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Don’s Legacy Lives On

My fiancé Don loved helping people. It was a part of him. He was the kind of person who would always ask someone how they were doing, it didn’t matter where we were. We could be at a grocery store or paying someone at a toll booth or a gas station and there would be Don asking, “How are you doing today?” If someone was wearing a name tag, he’d always address them by their name.

Don was a father, a grandfather, a brother, an uncle, a cousin, a friend, a trusted confidant, a leader, an executive, a man who feared and loved God, my soulmate and my very best friend. Everyone who encountered Don would have something positive to say after. He lived life to its fullest.

My Don was an accountant, smart as could be and very successful in his skill. His passion however was cooking, he could’ve easily been a famous chef at a Michelin star restaurant. His chocolate chip cookies were a crowd favorite and even though he’d share the recipe with people, we would hear those who attempted making it say they just couldn’t get those cookies to taste as good as his.

My life with my fiancé Don was by far the best years of my whole life. We met by chance 5 years ago and we were one of those stories where no matter where I was or where he was in our city, we’d run into each other several times, as though our guardian angels were purposely putting us together. I loved him from day one and never stopped.

I know if Don could speak to his recipients he’d say, I wish you happiness, amazing memories, joy, love and a world that can be a bit brighter now for you.

My Don’s passing wasn’t the end of our story. He will live in my heart forever. His legacy will carry on through the lives that he touched and the recipients whom he gave the Gift of Sight.

 
 

 

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Tyler’s Story

Tyler, a sophomore in High School and the youngest of four siblings, has always been a gifted young man. Born with bilateral congenital cataracts, he has never let his vision stand in the way of pursuing his passions.

Exceptionally musically inclined, Tyler can play the piano by ear and is always involved with his school’s musicals. Not even the pandemic could stop them from putting on a show, as they recently rehearsed, edited and produced a musical entirely over zoom.

Upon having his bilateral cataracts removed as an infant, everything went well with his right eye for over a decade, while scar tissue developed in the left. After years of his doctors removing the scar tissue in his left eye, Tyler developed glaucoma in the right eye. “I remember the moment I realized I had completely lost vision in my right eye,” Tyler recalls. I closed my left eye and held my hand in front of my right eye. All I could see was darkness.” In the spring of 2019, Tyler’s doctor determined the only hope or possibility of saving his sight would be through a cornea transplant. 

While the probability of saving his right eye was low, Tyler and his family never lost hope. “We pray every single night,” his mom, Bridget, explains. “The brain is a really powerful thing; if you lose hope, there’s no chance. If you keep hope, you can overcome even the most difficult of obstacles.”

After more complications and surgeries with his left eye, Tyler finally received a cornea transplant in his right eye in September of 2020. Christopher Rapuano, MD, Chief of Wills Eye Cornea Service and Retina Specialist Allen Ho, MD performed the surgery in the height of the pandemic. It was the first time Tyler could see out of his right eye since February of 2019.

“For the longest time all I could see when I opened my eyes was black or the brightest of lights. Right after my cornea transplant surgery, I opened my eyes, and I could finally see my hand in front of my face. I remember being able to see the wall and the trimming along it. That was huge,” Tyler recalls.

“We could not be more pleased with the outcome of Tyler’s surgery,” Dr. Rapuano happily says. Slowly but surely Tyler’s vision is improving. “My vision is getting sharper,” Tyler says. “I opened my eyes in the living room and I could make out the shapes of my furniture. Little by little it’s coming back!”

 

#FFF #FavoriteFriendFriday #DonateLife #GiftofSight #VisionRestored #corneatransplant #GrowingWithGratitude

 

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Svea Updates

Born with Peters Anomaly, at just 14 weeks old baby Svea had to receive a corneal transplant in her right eye. Two years later, Marjie and Brain shared Svea’s story and positive updates with the Eye Bank.

Now at six years old nothing can stop or slow Svea down! She started Kindergarten at a new school this year and absolutely loves it. Her favorite things include: gymnastics, dancing, swimming, and music. She especially enjoys listening to the Hamilton soundtrack!

“Her smile continues to light up every room she’s in,” Svea’s mom says. Her family (including her twin sister Emma and baby sister Charlotte) is so proud of her accomplishments and can’t wait to see what the future brings.

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Tony’s Legacy Lives On

Tony restored the gift of sight for two individuals and donated his organs and tissue.
 
Tony, husband of Shelley, father of Julie and grandfather of Colin and Maggie “was a beautiful and special soul” who continued to give even after his time on earth came to an end.
 
Tony met his wife Shelley in 1977 and they were married for 41 years. He spent his life giving back to those in need. As a Senior Disability Specialist, he spent his 33-year career advocating for the disabled. Tony felt most fulfilled and himself when he was able to give back.
 
Outside of work Tony loved listening to classical and rock music, creating beautiful art out of mosaics and watercolors, cooking, gardening, and hiking.
 
A survivor of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, Tony suffered from depression during the last 9 years of his life. “My husband faced a lot of obstacles in his life, but those problems are what made him different and so beautiful. He was able to triumph over incredible challenges.”
 
Shelley and her family feel good knowing that Tony’s legacy lives on through others. “Donation is a way to keep your loved one alive in a way while simultaneously helping others.”

 

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Grateful Recipient Fundraises with Facebook

Rubbing her eyes one morning because they felt dry, Anne immediately felt pain and discomfort. The rubbing caused a corneal abrasion in her right eye, one of the most common eye injuries.

Anne’s doctor prescribed different eye drops to increase the pressure in her eye and a special contact lens to cover the abrasion and stabilize the eye until her cornea transplant surgery. Meanwhile, Anne had to refrain from doing some of the things she enjoyed most like exercising and traveling.

A couple of years ago, Anne decided for her birthday to start a Facebook Fundraising Page to benefit Lions Eye Bank of Delaware Valley. She wrote a detailed post about her transplant surgery and asked her friends and family to support her journey and the Eye Bank. “What a blessing that we have organizations like this, making sure there are corneas for people like me who need them.” She included a picture that she drew of her eye. “And hey… while you’re at it… consider making sure you have signed what you need to sign to be a donor and that you have let your family know your wishes. It’s important. You can’t use them where you’re going anyway!”

Anne raised $900 for the Gratis Tissue Program, which supports individuals who need a corneal transplant but lack the proper means to get one. She also expressed her gratitude to the family who made the decision to donate their loved one’s corneas. “Thank you, thank you, thank you! It has given me the freedom to pursue doing the things I love. I can see my grandkids with both eyes and I thank you for that.”

Sign up for our
25th Annual
Gift of Sight Charity Golf Classic

Monday, August 12th, 2019