The Armstrong Lions Club set its sights high when its members committed to raising more than $100,000 to fund a new argon laser for the Lions Vision Centre in Armstrong.
But their vision, they soon realized, would be huge, so they turned to their colleagues, the community and the public.
The Armstrong club teamed up with Lions Clubs in Enderby, Lumby, Sicamous and Vernon to fundraise with weekly bingos over the past year.
North Okanagan community groups, businesses and individuals joined in, including Askew’s Foods, the Haugen Centre, Armstrong Ladies Club, and the Royal Canadian Legion Armstrong Branch #35.
The Armstrong Spallumcheen Health Care Auxiliary, which runs the Bargain Bin thrift store in downtown Armstrong, contributed $50,000 to the fundraising efforts.
Their combined efforts resulted in $108,400 raised for Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation.
“We realized it was a huge job and we maybe should have some help,” said Sandy McMurray, Lions Club Zone Chair, speaking to local community groups at the Lions Vision Centre Wednesday.
“Our community stepped up beautifully. We are humbled by the support of all these associations, clubs and businesses.”
McMurray, surrounded by representatives from zone Lions Clubs and the community, presented the donation to Lisa Westermark, VJH Foundation executive director.
“It’s a tremendous lift to have this kind of community support,” said Westermark. “All of you coming together for this incredible feat of raising $108,000 to buy this important equipment for our community is spectacular.”
The Lions Vision Centre sees about 50 patients a day, serving residents from the North Okanagan, the Shuswap, Revelstoke and Nakusp. More than 4,000 surgeries are performed each year, with the majority being cataract removal.
Dr. Mathias Fellenz, an ophthalmologist who retired last year, was on-hand to accept a plaque from Lions Clubs for his dedication to the centre.
“This place has been in my heart for most of my career,” said Dr. Fellenz. “I’m very thankful to see the community continue to support it because it is such a critical place for eye care in our community and to have a world-class centre here is pretty amazing.”
The new argon laser will replace the existing equipment that urgently needs replacing. The new laser is vital to provide both scheduled and emergency treatment, covering conditions including acute retinal tears as well as diabetic retinopathy, and managing surgically treated glaucoma.