WAUSAU (WAOW) - Two Lake Du Bay Lions Club members are recognized with a Jefferson Award for their volunteer efforts to prevent blindness in children.
Dave Langton and Le Mellin organize vision screening programs in Marathon, Portage, Wood, Adams and Clark counties.
"We do the three-to-five age group because if you don't catch things like lazy eye, permanent damage can occur by the time they are seven years old," Langton said.
Added Mellin, "As a Lion, I took on the mission set forth by Helen Keller in 1925 to be lions of sight. I thought that would be very noble and that is why I do it."
News 9 watched the two men as they recently screened children in the Head Start program in Wausau, taking pictures of their eyes with a small camera as a way to detect several abnormalities in the eye.
"It doesn't require them to read and we can also test non-verbal children with it," Langton said.
If vision problems are detected, the child's parents are urged to take them to an eye doctor.
Head Start leaders appreciate the free testing.
"We have 187 children that we take care of and to have that help is such a benefit," Director of Education Services Nicole Guthrie said.
Prevent Blindness Wisconsin, a partner in the vision screening program, estimates 80 percent of a child's learning is related to sight and without good vision younger children have a harder time learning.
Mellin joined the Lake DuBay Lions in 2005; Langton in 1999.
"It is very rewarding. It is good to be a Lion," Mellin said.