North American Optometry Students

North American Optometry Students

Optometry Students Launch the World Sight Day Student Challenge on Campuses Across North America

6,000 Optometry Students across North America have 'Taken the Challenge' and are actively participating in World Sight Day Challenge events throughout September and October.

The start of the new school year means optometry students across North America are getting ready to fundraise in support of the World Sight Day Challenge. Since inception in 2008, the “Student Challenge” has raised over $125,000! With 28 pre-optometry and optometry schools participating, this year’s Student Challenge promises to be bigger than ever.

Nova Southeastern University is gearing up for their 2nd Annual Cycling for Sight event. Led for the second year by Micaela Crowley, AOSA trustee, the students at Nova raised over $12,000 last year for the Challenge, ‘cycling’ across the United States on stationary bikes. “World Sight Day is optometry’s holiday – a day for people to celebrate something they hold close to their hearts. I’ve always thought the best (and only) way to do that is by giving back,” says Micaela.

On the other side of the country, students at Midwestern University’s Arizona College of Optometry are planning their first Student Challenge 5K and fun run event on campus. Theresa Radtke, Class of 2016, is leading the Challenge at Midwestern and has been planning the event for months. “[We are] participating in this year's World Sight Day Challenge to try to make a difference in fighting avoidable blindness. Since our college has been established we have been very involved in serving our community and being involved in projects abroad; it is an honour to be able to help on this level,” says Theresa.

Each year the Student Challenge leaders have become more creative and successful in their fundraising efforts. To name a few events happening in North America: University of Montreal and University of Waterloo are both planning a “Dining in the Dark” event with a silent auction, Inter American University of Puerto Rico is planning an ice cream social and volleyball tournament, Pennsylvania College of Optometry is planning a “Movember Growdown” event, Southern College of Optometry is having a t-shirt design contest and drive, and University of Houston will have their 3rd annual talent show.  

VOSH International has generously agreed to sponsor the award of three travel stipends again this year. The stipends are given to the schools that raise the most total donations and the highest average donation per optometry student. Nova Southeastern University, University of Montreal and the University of Waterloo won the travel stipends in 2013.

“VOSH International is delighted to be able to provide these travel stipends, so that these student leaders can experience firsthand the vital work being done to train and mentor people in underserved communities,” said Dr. Greg Pearl, past President of VOSH International. 

Alexis Keeling received the winning travel award for her work at the University of Waterloo’s Dining in the Dark event in 2013.  After returning from her recent site visit to Nicaragua, Alexis commented, “we only go for a couple of days, but the number of people we help is astounding! I truly believe there is no greater gift than the gift of sight! It warms my heart to remember the smiles on people’s faces, when looking at the reading card through plus lenses. We may not have spoken the same language, but a smile on their face is a universal message of thanks.”

The World Sight Day Challenge is a major fundraising campaign coordinated by Optometry Giving Sight which is designed to raise funds for projects that provide vision care, local training and infrastructure support for people who are blind or vision impaired due to uncorrected refractive error – simply the need for an eye exam and a pair of glasses. The global target for this year is $1 million.

Take the challenge!