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Saving Sight: Hero for Sight awards honors Monday Morning Quarterback Club

Poor vision affects 150,000 Alabama children each year, and neglecting vision care can negatively impact personality, learning, and social adjustment in school.

To combat this issue, Sight Savers America stepped in to assist these children. Since 1997, the nonprofit organization has created numerous programs that help children throughout the country receive routine and specialized eye care, provided through local eye care providers, eye clinics, low-vision clinics, in-home delivery of vision aids, and training in how to use them. These services are provided at no cost to low-income children and their families.

In 2014, Sight Savers America held its inaugural Hero For Sight event. This special celebration honors individuals or organizations whose impact on children’s eye care in the state of Alabama has been both lasting and profound. The Sight Savers America Hall W. Thompson Hero For Sight Award is presented each year in honor of Alabama businessman Hall Thompson’s legacy of supporting children’s eye care in the state. Thompson was instrumental in helping Sight Savers America expand to serve children in all 67 Alabama counties.

“The Sight Savers America Hero For Sight Award recipient is a person or organization who has made a significant impact in serving those who need eye care – a true hero in the eye care community,” says Jeff Haddox, president and CEO of Sight Savers America.

The 2016 recipient of the Sight Savers America Hall W. Thompson Hero For Sight Award is the Monday Morning Quarterback Club/Crippled Children’s Foundation. The Monday Morning Quarterback Club was organized in 1939 to foster fellowship among football fans, but the club soon began looking beyond its social charter. Club members sponsored and promoted an annual high school football game to raise money for a children’s hospital, and subsequently they raised over $3 million to build the Crippled Children’s Clinic and Hospital.

In late 1969, the clinic building became part of the medical center at UAB, and the Crippled Children’s Foundation was formed with the mission of providing funds for medical needs that might otherwise not be met. Over the years, money generated by The Monday Morning Quarterback Club/Crippled Children’s Foundation has helped Sight Savers America serve over 10,000 children across the state, providing case management, vision screenings, eye exams, eyeglasses, rural eye clinics, medications, surgeries, and other treatments and services for eye conditions.

Each year, Sight Savers America commissions a visually impaired artist to produce a piece of art to be dedicated to that year’s award recipient. The 2016 artist is Amy Monthei of Honolulu, Hawaii. Born with cataracts, Monthei’s lenses were removed when she was just a few months old, and today she has low vision. Her parents – also artists with low vision – taught her that “blindness is an inconvenience, not a tragedy.” Monthei was diagnosed with early-onset glaucoma in her thirties, but that didn’t stop her from working in various fine art galleries. Currently she works out of her home-based studio.

“The Hero For Sight commissioned artist is visually impaired and represents those who can overcome a disability and create something beautiful despite their visual impairment,” Haddox says. “It is a tribute to the award recipient and an amazing representation of the eye care community.”

The 2016 commissioned piece is titled, “Sensory Reflections: Share the Vision-grade 2 Braille.” This beautiful work of art can be enjoyed equally by sighted viewers and visually impaired or blind individuals thanks to its highly textured surfaces, multiple layers of color, and a praise in braille which reads, “Share the Vision.” The Sight Savers America Hall W. Thompson Hero For Sight Award and the commissioned piece are on permanent display along the 25-foot tribute wall in Callahan Eye Hospital’s first-floor lobby.