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Lighthouse Guild Awards 18 College Scholarships to Students with Vision Loss

Awardees include 17 students who are entering undergraduate schools and one student who is entering medical school.

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Caitlin Sarubbi

(PRESS RELEASE) NEW YORK — Lighthouse Guild announced that it is awarding 18 college scholarships of $7,500 each to students who are legally blind. The awardees include 17 students who are entering undergraduate schools and one student who is entering medical school.

Paralympic athlete Caitlin Sarubbi, born and raised in Brooklyn, is receiving a scholarship to help achieve her dream of becoming a doctor. The daughter of a retired New York City Firefighter who was active during 9/11, Sarubbi was born with a rare syndrome called ablepharon macrostomia, which left her legally blind, partially hearing impaired and having to undergo over 60 reconstructive surgeries starting at 3 days old. She knew from an early age that she wanted to become a doctor. In 2008, as a high school student, she received a college-bound scholarship from Lighthouse Guild. In 2010, she competed as an alpine ski racer in the Paralympic Games in Vancouver. She went on to receive her undergraduate degree from Harvard in 2015 and is now starting her studies at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine in New Jersey.

Sarubbi says, “This scholarship from Lighthouse Guild allows me to focus on my studies in medical school and my goal of being the best doctor I can be with less concern about financial obligations. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to go to medical school and pay it forward by helping others the way my surgeons and doctors have helped me.”

She adds, “I hope to continue to show all people that no matter what challenges you may face, you can still accomplish any goal you set for yourself, and nothing is impossible.”

Lighthouse Guild scholarships are based on strong academic accomplishment and merit to help students with vision loss make a successful transition to college and graduate education. The 2019 recipients are from across the country and will be attending some of the nation’s most competitive universities.

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Dr. Alan R Morse, president and CEO of Lighthouse Guild, says, “Applying for college, getting accepted, and obtaining financing can be particularly challenging for students with vision loss. We are pleased to be able to help outstanding students who are legally blind pursue their studies and secure their futures.”

2019 Lighthouse Guild Scholarship Recipients and Schools

  • David Abrahams, Havertown, PA, Harvard
  • Alexandra Allers, Fort Gratiot, MI, University of Michigan
  • Ryan Basso, Port Chester, NY, University of Delaware
  • Mitchell Bridwell, Pittsboro, IN, Purdue University
  • Stephen Friday, Muskegon, MI, University of Michigan
  • Emily Hicks, Cumming, GA, University of Alabama
  • Gene Kim, Cupertino, CA, Stanford University
  • Aymon Langlois, Reading MA, Skidmore College
  • Jack MacDonald, Enfield, CT, University of Hartford
  • Mikayla M, Lake Worth, FL, University of South Florida
  • Luke Miller, Elmhurst, IL, University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana
  • Lukas Mullaney, Brightwaters, NY, Providence College
  • Kaylee Nielson, Phoeniz, AZ, Wellesley College
  • Anna Ohrt, Issaquah, WA, Brown University
  • Rio Popper, Redwood City, CA, Oxford University
  • Caitlin Sarubbi, Brooklyn, NY, Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine
  • Lea Schiefele, Lake Worth, FL, Florida Southern College
  • Kinshuk Tella, Miamisburg, Ohio, Miami University, Ohio

Since its inception in 2005, Lighthouse Guild’s Scholarship Program has awarded over $2 million in scholarships to outstanding students from 38 states. Former scholarship recipients have gone on to careers as attorneys, teachers, engineers, chemists, composers, musicians, neuroscientists, social workers, business owners, investors, epidemiologists, nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, journalists and computer scientists.

Teaching Award

Lighthouse Guild also recognizes the powerful role teachers play in motivating students who are blind by each year recognizing a teacher based on nominations received from the students themselves. The 2019 Lighthouse Guild Teacher Award recipient is Jenny Padgett, a teacher at Cupertino High School in California.

Her student nominee, Gene Kim, says, “Mrs. Padgett was my Honors American Literature teacher during my eleventh grade, and she remains one of the most academically and socially influential teachers in my life. She listened and engaged with me as a unique individual, not just ‘that blind student I see in the mornings everyday.’”

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Gordon Rovins, director of special programs at Lighthouse Guild, says, “Each year we receive hundreds of scholarship applications and nominations for teachers from amazing students from across the country. Each has a unique and compelling story of academic triumph and incredible achievement. Congratulations to the students, the teachers and their families.”

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SKYGEN International Foundation Celebrates Anniversary

It has completed more than 72,000 vision tests in Tanzania.

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(PRESS RELEASE) MENOMONEE FALLS, WI – The SKYGEN International Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the healthcare benefits technology and administration company SKYGEN USA, celebrates a year of achievement and growth in its effort to provide vision services throughout underserved communities in Tanzania. Since July 2018, this non-profit organization provided more than 72,000 Tanzanians with vision tests and distributed more than 19,000 pairs of free prescription glasses and will expand its reach to more regions of the East African country in the coming months.

Craig Kasten, SKYGEN USA CEO and managing partner, and Greg Borca, co-founder of SKYGEN USA, advocated for the creation of the foundation in 2017 after a trip to Tanzania by Kasten shed light on the nearly nonexistent eye care in many regions of the country. Kasten gained the first-hand experience on the negative impact the lack of care had on schools within the communities.

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“There is an average of four eye doctors for every 2 million people in Tanzania,” says Kasten. “This past year has been extremely successful. We have expanded our capabilities to provide glasses to those in need, and we continue to see more students and community members receiving eye care that was not possible a year ago.”

On July 9, 2018, a team from SKYGEN International Foundation, led by executive director Lisa Sweeney, traveled to the Meru region of Tanzania to begin the groundwork for the project — the first of its kind for the SKYGEN USA group. Since then, the foundation has provided tens of thousands of locals with vision tests and provided more than 19,000 pairs of glasses; of those tested, over 50,000 are students and 2,300 are teachers. The glasses are built to each person’s specific prescription and in most cases delivered on the day of the test. In May alone, 11,000 people received vision tests, making it the organization’s most successful month to date. For students, the work the Foundation is doing means creating more opportunities for a better life. For adults and elders, it means restoring dignity and allowing them to lead richer, more fulfilling lives.

The foundation has consistently delivered life-changing healthcare benefits to those without access and makes it a priority to utilize its Enterprise System vision platform to maintain a record of those who have utilized the now-available eye care services. Because of its efforts, SKYGEN International Foundation recently received the Platinum Seal of Transparency award from GuideStar, the world’s largest source of nonprofit information. The top-tier award is given to organizations with high transparency and accuracy in regard to its reported results, overview of the organization and insight on the communities it serves.

“This award is a sign that we are moving in the right direction with the transparency of our work within the philanthropic community,” states Sweeney. “After providing thousands of people with access to eye care, I am eager to see the foundation continue as it begins providing services to more regions of Tanzania and beyond.”

On top of school visits, the foundation regularly conducts vision tests at clinics where locals can receive vision tests and prescription glasses. Previously, these efforts have focused on the Meru region of Tanzania. The foundation has recently expanded into the Arusha region, an area that can substantially benefit from accessible eye care. Following the anniversary, on August 18, 2019, a team will revisit the regions to build on its efforts, work with the local Tanzanian team and secure partnerships.

To learn more about the SKYGEN International Foundation, see current results and/or donate to the foundation, visit https://skygenfoundation.org.

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Press Releases

Essilor of America Celebrates Launch of Transitions Signature Gen 8

It comes with the introduction of the ‘Essilor Next Gen’ buy one, get one offer.

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(PRESS RELEASE) DALLAS, TX – Essilor of America kicked off back-to-school season with the launch of the Essilor Next GEN Offer, a consumer promotion designed to enable eyecare professionals to recommend the new Transitions Signature GEN 8T lenses to more patients and increase overall practice revenue while providing patients with their best vision possible. From July 10 through Dec. 31, 2019, when patients purchase Transitions Signature GEN 8 lenses with select Essilor lenses from participating practices, they can receive a free bonus pair of clear, qualifying lenses with frame purchase.

Engineered with proprietary technology, Transitions Signature GEN 8 lenses, the best overall photochromic lenses, provide all of the benefits patients want: protection, outdoor darkness, full indoor clarity, responsiveness and long-lasting performance with improved activation and fade back speed. In fact, 9 out of 10 Transitions lens wearers are satisfied and would repurchase.

The Essilor Next GEN Offer allows patients to customize their lenses to best fit their vision needs. When they purchase Transitions Signature GEN 8 lenses with any Crizal, they can choose between Varilux X Series T, Eyezen + or Essilor Single Vision lenses to qualify for a free pair of lenses with the offer2. For their free clear pair, patients can select any Crizal on any Varilux, Eyezen+ or Essilor Single Vision lenses.

“The Essilor Next GEN Offer will provide our customers a powerful incentive to increase trial of Transitions Signature GEN 8 lenses with all patients. We have designed the offer so that patients can choose from any single vision lenses with Crizal and Transitions Signature GEN 8, to ensure that our customers have a compelling tool to win during the critical back-to-school season,” says Sherianne James, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Essilor of America. “We don’t want our customers to miss out on the opportunity with single vision wearers and we want them to recognize that many single vision patients desire their guidance and expertise. They trust their eyecare professionals to recommend the best lenses for them and with this offer, they can feel confident to introduce them to a superior photochromic experience and our best-in-class brands at an incredible value.”

In an effort to amplify awareness of the Essilor Next GEN Offer and generate patient traffic for its eyecare provider partners, Essilor will launch an extensive consumer advertising campaign consisting of national TV, connected TV, digital advertising including video and display ads, in-store advertising, and geo-targeted and smart search ads.

“From our advertising investment to our compelling promotion, we will bring Transitions Signature GEN 8 lenses to more consumers of all ages. We are committed to delivering exceptional support to our partners to deliver the best patient experience in the market,” James adds.

Any qualifying eyecare practice is eligible to participate in the Essilor Next GEN Offer. To participate, eyecare professionals must enroll their practice at MyEssilorLabs.com, PartnershipRewardsPortal.com, MyIDDLabs.com and/or Nassau247.com. Enrollment started June 3 and ends Dec. 30, 2019. Promotion period is July 10 (or enrollment date, whichever is later) until Dec. 31, 2019. Visit EssilorUSA.com for more details, full terms and conditions.

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Press Releases

ABB Optical Announces New Board Member

His career in the optical industry spans more than 25 years.

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John Weber

(PRESS RELEASE) CORAL SPRINGS, FL – ABB Optical Group, a national provider of optical products and business services for the eyecare industry, announced that John Weber has joined the its board of directors.

Weber’s career in the optical industry spans more than 25 years. He most recently served as chief commercial officer for Hoya Vision. Prior to that, he served as the chief executive officer of Vision-Ease Lens and previously held a number of senior leadership roles within CooperVision, Inc., culminating in his role as president.

“John has extensive experience in the eye care industry and will provide fresh insights as we continue to execute on our customer-centric strategy and vision for the future,” said ABB Optical CEO Tom Burke. “We share a strong passion for enhancing the customer experience for both eye care practitioners and patients, and I believe he will be an outstanding addition to our board.”

A graduate of the University of Minnesota with a degree in economics, Weber also holds an MBA from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, CA, and was a captain in the U.S. Army.

“I am excited to work alongside the leadership team to enhance ABB OPTICAL’s role in the optical marketplace,” said Weber. “I look forward to helping the company achieve its full potential as it continues to scale and grow its offerings to deliver best-in-class business solutions for eye care practitioners, thereby enabling them to provide the best care to their patients.”

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