Trailblazing Third Grader Brings Attention To Kids’ Vision
By Essilor News
At Essilor, our mission is improving lives by improving sight. We work tirelessly to help the world see better, including the 2.5 billion people around the world who don’t have access to vision correction. We know we cannot do this alone. This is why we’re proud to share the story of one incredible young girl who is not only working to improve access to vision care in her local community, but who embodies our mission through her heart, spirit and actions.
For most eight-year-old children, vision probably isn’t something they think about every day. But Ella Osborne of Beaverton, Oregon, isn’t an average child. She is the founder of the Vision Fun Run, a fundraiser that raises money for the KEX Kids Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides free exams, eyeglasses and hearing aids for children in need. Her second annual Vision Fun Run will take place on May 21, 2017.
Ella is no stranger to vision issues. When she was just three months old, her pediatrician found a spot on her eye and recommended that she visit an eye doctor. The spot turned out to be a cataract. Ella was also diagnosed with amblyopia (lazy eye) and began patch therapy. She started wearing glasses at age two and has gone to the eye doctor every three to six months ever since.
“I’m lucky that I could get the treatment I need, but I know lots of kids can’t afford to go to the eye doctor. I wanted to do something to help.” Ella explains how she came up with the idea for a fun run. “I was at a health fair and overheard some people talking about how they couldn’t take their kids to the eye doctor because they didn’t have insurance or enough money to go. I remembered there was a fun run for someone in my neighborhood who was sick and thought that would be a good idea. I wanted to do something in my community for people who aren’t as lucky as I am.”
Ella’s mom DeDe says the response has been incredible. “So many parents have told me they thought the vision screening their kids get at school was enough. They had no idea that children need an eye exam at ages 1, 3 and 5. We want to spread this message not only in Oregon but globally.”
The team at Essilor of America saw Ella’s story in her local news. We were so moved by how closely her efforts align with our global mission, as well as the mission of the Essilor Vision Foundation, that we knew we had to act. The team in Portland jumped in to not only sponsor the 2017 Vision Fun Run, but Essilor’s Opticraft Optical lab, based in Portland, has offered to provide lab services for Ella’s cause as well.
Ella is so passionate about good vision that she recently testified in front of a state senate committee in support of a bill that would provide money so every Oregon elementary student can get an eye exam. “I think it’s really important that children should be able to see and get the eye care they need. People have the right to see clearly and they should.” The bill is currently in committee and there should be a decision by July.
Ella believes having good vision plays a big role in kids’ self-confidence, including her own. “I’m on a competitive dance team and it’s very important to be able to see my body and know how to cooperate in my dance classes.” Her message to other kids is simple: “Be confident in yourself and don’t let anyone get in your way. Be proud of your glasses.”
Last year’s Vision Fun Run raised $2,150 and provided glasses to 71 children. Ella's goal this year was to double that amount and with Essilor’s pledged support, she was able to exceed that goal and raise nearly $6,000.