Philadelphia Eagles Eye Mobile makes stop in Bismarck before Super Bowl
BISMARCK—Kylee Van Inwagen has difficulties seeing far away.
The ninth-grader at Bismarck High School has never worn contacts or glasses. Recently, she watched a movie in her global studies class, and, despite sitting in the front of the room, she still couldn't make out what was on the screen. Instead, she sat on the floor so she could see.
On Friday, Feb. 2, the Philadelphia Eagles Eye Mobile, a mobile eye clinic that provides free eye examinations and makes prescription eyeglasses on the spot for students, came to Bismarck, and Van Inwagen will finally get a pair of glasses—a pair of bold-rimmed frames she's always wanted.
Now, she will finally be able to properly study for tests by taking down notes that were once hard to see on the whiteboard in the front of the classroom, she said.
The Eagles Eye Mobile, a signature program of the Eagles Charitable Foundation, has made stops in four cities this week leading up to the Super Bowl: La Grange, Ill., Racine, Wis., Milwaukee, Wis., and its last stop in Bismarck.
The Eye Mobile started in 1996, when the team's first-round draft pick Jermane Mayberry set aside money for the program for students in the Greater Philadelphia area.
Mayberry hadn't gotten an eye exam until he was 16 years old, and he had gone blind in his left eye due to a condition called amblyopia, or an undeveloped optic nerve, which is treatable if caught early.
Because the Eagles made it to the Super Bowl, it was decided to expand to other players' hometowns, including where Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was raised.
"(Vision care) is needed in all ZIP codes," Rachel Weiner, director of vision programming for the Eagles Charitable Foundation. "One in four students has a vision issue that can affect them in the classroom and out on the sports field."
Locally licensed eye doctors including Keith Schindler, who was Wentz's eye doctor growing up, were providing full exams in Bismarck on Friday on the bus parked outside Horizon Middle School. In a mobile lab, eye glasses were being made for students in just about 15 minutes. In all, 71 students were served and 41 eyeglasses distributed.
"This is all free for students and their families, and this is all about providing access to care to kids," Weiner said.
The Eagles Eye Mobile and Eye Glasses Lab travels to more than 120 schools each year. Since 1996, the program has benefited more than 81,000 children and distributed more than 56,000 glasses.