On Tuesday, the Buccaneers and the Glazer Family Foundation were honored for the second time in as many months by a local county school board for efforts to make a difference in the lives of schoolchildren through the Foundation’s Vision Program.
“They are very committed to serving the needs of kids in Pinellas County who have vision deficiencies or need some follow-up vision care,” said Sara O’Toole, managing officer of school health services for Pinellas County Schools. “This has been an excellent partnership for us. We’ve done some wonderful and amazing work, and the program has grown even in the last two years. We’ve been able to really reach more needy students and give them the help that they need and deserve.”
During Tuesday morning’s meeting with the Pinellas County School Board, representatives from the Glazer Family Foundation were recognized for the Vision Program’s significant impact on student health. Established in 2006, and expanded by the launch of the Glazer Family Foundation Vision Mobile in 2009, the program has assisted in providing more than 10,000 free eye screenings and distributing more than 5,000 pairs of prescription glasses to students throughout central Florida.
Nearly 2,000 comprehensive eye exams have taken place on the Vision Mobile this year alone
This past year, in partnership with the Essilor Vision Foundation, the Vision Mobile enhanced these services by adding the ability to produce eyeglasses on board the mobile vision unit, and many on the same day of a student’s eye exam.
Ailey Penningroth, chief marketing officer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, shared the inspiration behind the Vision Program during a May 20 Hillsborough County School Board meeting, during which the Glazer Family Foundation was also recognized.
“Malcolm Glazer had very compromised eyesight as a child, and he went to school for more than a year without having his vision checked,” said Penningroth. “When he finally got glasses, it was obviously transformational for him. The fact that it comes from such a genuine and authentic place makes it really a labor of love for us.”
This past school year alone, the Vision Program conducted 3,240 screenings, carried out 1,934 comprehensive eye exams and provided 1,705 prescription glasses to students in 61 schools across the two counties. With the success of the Glazer Family Foundation Vision Mobile, the program’s community impact has truly been seen by students and school administrators throughout the Bay Area.
“There was a time when we could not get parents to accept the glasses after their kids had the screening,” said Candy Olson, school board member for Hillsborough County’s District 2. “I think the fact that it comes from the Buccaneers and that it is done almost immediately makes a huge difference.”