Saturday, April 28, 2007

High School students raised funds to help the visually impaired

Victoria Giordani walked around the pond at Eugene Levy Memorial Park yesterday not only to enjoy the sunny, spring weather, but because she and other members of Ramapo High School's ASPIRA Club were raising money for a cause.

The event supported organizations including VISIONS Vacation Camp for the Blind, and was part of the Monsey Lions Club's Campaign SightFirst program.

The walk featured volunteers from the club and students from Ramapo High School and Pearl River High School's Honor Society.

"We're helping blind people, and helping them get glasses," said Giordani, a 17-year-old senior. "It feels great."

Maybelle Twohie, president of the Lions Club, said the Lions' SightFirst program is a global initiative, and yesterday's walk included Lions members from numerous counties in the state.
Twohie was not certain about when the event first began, but she has been involved with it since 1974.

Including volunteers and the 125 members of VISIONS Vacation Camp for the Blind, Twohie said the event would draw well over 200 people. She hoped it would raise nearly $10,000 to benefit the camp and other organizations and schools for the visually impaired.

"The fact that they're giving of themselves," Twohie said of the young volunteers, "it's like they're saying, 'I don't want something back, but I did get something from just sharing with you, this day.' "
Although the event was primarily focused on the walk, there were other activities to entertain the crowd. Children played at the park's playground while other people enjoyed doughnuts, coffee, hot dogs and soda.

The Lions also raised money by selling raffle tickets for $2 apiece, each ticket giving participants the chance to win small prizes.

Joy Vazquez Pierre-Louis, a math teacher and ASPIRA adviser at Ramapo High School, has involved herself and her school's club with the walk for six years. She said that it is a valuable experience not just for those in need, but her students as well.

She said that her students were each responsible for raising $20 for the walk and that, combined, they were able to raise $500.

"It shows their character and what they're committed to," Vazquez Pierre-Louis said of the students. "They are very fortunate in their situations and they know that there are people who are less fortunate. ... I hope that they continue doing that."

Vazquez Pierre-Louis said her group was on hand not only to benefit the Lions Club and VISIONS Vacation Camp for the Blind, but also organizations such as Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a group that trains guide dogs.

Although students and volunteers benefited from the walk, perhaps the people to benefit the most were the camp members themselves.

Kathryn Devlin has been a VISIONS camp member and has participant at the Lions' annual walk since the 1970s. She and her husband, Reed Devlin, also a camp member, said that they enjoy such walks because they can catch up with friends.

"We love it," Kathryn Devlin said as she walked around the pond with her arm wrapped around her husband's. "The weather is beautiful."

"We've been looking forward to this, and the beautiful weather is just frosting on the cake," Reed Devlin said. "It doesn't get better than this."


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