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BEA grad raises funds for Lions Club project

By Staff | Apr 17, 2011

Amy Slama (center)

In Amy Slama’s search for a future career, she knew she desired a job that could meet three pieces of criteria — be challenging, be in the health care profession and help her contribute to her community.

The 2003 Blue Earth Area High School graduate took a liking to optometry in part because she was frequently exposed to it; she needed glasses and contacts as a child, had gotten injuries in the past that could have resulted in vision loss and realized her family faced certain hereditary conditions.

“These experiences have inspired me to pursue a career in optometry, and have made me realize how delicate our vision is and the important role optometrists play in improving and preserving our eyesight,” Slama says.

In order to pursue optometry, the Winnebago native chose to make a huge move south and enrolled at the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tenn. She immediately joined the school’s Lions Club to start giving back to the community, and took part in different fundraisers through the club over her next few years.

In one specific fundraiser, Slama was approached by the media coordinator for the Mississippi RiverKings hockey team about joining together to raise money for the Lions Club.

Though she had never gotten a chance to play hockey in high school — because it isn’t offered at BEA — Slama enjoys watching the sport and was intrigued by the idea.

As SCO Lions Club president, she talked it over with some board members, and everyone decided it would be a unique way to raise money.

“We thought it would be something different, fun and family-friendly for the school’s Lions Club to be a part of,” Slama says. “Several of my friends in the south had never been to a hockey game or skated, so we were bringing a little north to the south.”

The Lions Club sold more than 200 tickets to the hockey game — which featured much more than hockey itself.

During the first intermission of the game, a broomball competition was held between students and doctors, and the second intermission featured zamboni rides for children. There was also open skating to the public for an hour following the game.

In the end, 62 percent of the proceeds from the night were given to the SCO Lions Club.

“The RiverKings and the Maddox Foundation (a grant-giving organization in Mississippi) presented us with a check for $2,000,” Slama says.

Money raised from fundraisers such as the hockey game helps the Lions Club with one of its main missions as a service club.

“One of our goals is to provide eyeglasses for patients who otherwise would not be able to afford them,” Slama explains.

Prospective patients fill out an application explaining their circumstances and why they need help from the club, and then the club votes to appprove a patient. If approved, the Lions Club pays for eyeglasses or will help someone receive an eye exam at no cost.

Aside from helping the community through the Lions Club, Slama has also provided eye care to those in need through Student Volunteers in Optometric Service to Humanity, another organization at her college. She traveled with the group to Villahermosa, Mexico, for a five-day trip and helped perform more than 800 eye exams.

“I enjoy interacting with patients with varying backgrounds and needs,” Slama says.

SVOSH also distributed eyeglasses that had been collected from various Lions Clubs in the United States.

Although Slama is set to graduate in May next year, she has plans to go on at least one more mission trip before she leaves school, and says she’d even like to continue the trips after graduation.

“I also plan to join the community’s Lions Club wherever I settle,” she says.

Slama would like to end up working in a private practice in the future, and knows she has a lot to look forward to no matter where she ends up.

“Working at an eye clinic and being in school at Southern College of Optometry, I have discovered that optometry is a never-ending learning process,” she says. “I am excited to be on this journey of becoming part of this inspiring and worthwhile profession.”