“CAMPAIGN SIGHTFIRST II”We are approaching the most exciting time of our long history of service to the Blind and Sight Impaired of the world, in keeping with our pledge to become Knights of the Blind in the Crusade against Darkness we need to raise at least US$150 million to continue the work of the SightFirst Program.
Fifteen years ago, Lions began their most important project ever. We concentrated our service on the tens of millions who were blind but did not have to be. The ambitious goal was to significantly reduce avoidable blindness. We knew that 80 percent of people without vision did not have to be blind. If we could get the right medicine to them or provide a cataract surgery or teach them to avoid infectious disease, we could save and even restore their sight.
How have we done? Extraordinarily well. In just a decade and a half, we’ve restored sight to 4.6 million people through cataract surgeries and we’ve prevented serious vision loss in another 20 million. Moreover, we’ve improved eye care services for hundreds of millions.
Thanks to Lions, there are fewer blind people today despite a 20 percent increase in the world’s population as well as an increasingly aging population. But our journey to preserve sight has not ended. The rapid increase in life expectancy and growing threats to sight such as diabetes, threaten millions with loss of vision.
Unless action is taken now, the number of blind people could double to a staggering 75 million by 2020. So what should Lions do? The funds for SightFirst are almost exhausted. Yet the desire to serve, to prevent blindness, remains quite high among Lions.
Millions are threatened by blindness. But that won’t happen. We Lions won’t let it. We embarked on Campaign SightFirst II from 2005 to 2008 to raise a further $US200 million to again give the gift of sight to millions. We succeeded by raising $US200.33 million by July 2008 which included $18,000 from Ballina Lions Club from the Fun Run conducted from 2006 to 2008.
Today we face an unprecedented challenge. In true Lion fashion, we will succeed.