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Sure Eye Care presented Diamond Award for World Sight Day Challenge 2016

Amanda Rungis - Wednesday, March 29, 2017

I'm proud to announce that Sure Eye Care has been presented the Diamond Award for the World Sight Day Challenge 2016. Highballs for Eyeballs, our annual fundraiser co-hosted with ReviveR cocktail bar, raised $13,270 for Optometry Giving Sight. Worldwide that's the highest amount achieved by any optometry practice last year. So how did it all happen?

5 years ago, my husband Gordon Ryan and I came up with a “out of the box” idea. Gordon had just opened ReviveR, Central Coast’s first classic cocktail bar, in Gosford. Jokes about me helping people see and Gordon sending people blind were rife. So, we thought we’d have some fun and we came up with Highballs for Eyeballs, a fundraiser for the World Sight Day Challenge.

The World Sight Day Challenge is a major fundraising campaign coordinated by Optometry Giving Sight (OGS). It's designed to raise funds and awareness about avoidable blindness. OGS supply training, establish vision centres and deliver eye care services for people who are blind or vision impaired due to uncorrected refractive error. Simply, they need an eye exam and a pair of glasses.

The original idea for Highballs, as we now affectionally call it, was simple. We invited people to ReviveR for a complimentary Green-Eyed Girl and canapes. In return we asked for a donation to OGS. Gordon created the Green-Eyed Girl cocktail exclusively for the event. It's a very tasty combination of gin, tonic, Midori and for the “eyes” kiwifruit slices.

The first year we set out to raise $1000. At the end of the first night we were blown away by the response. We'd managed to raise over $3000. And so, Highballs became an annual event. Highballs has evolved. We now have live auctions, silent auctions and a balloon raffle. We have been awarded the Platinum Award every year. We have also held the Australian Practice of the Year title every year.

Our goal last year was to raise $10,000 for the 10th anniversary of World Sight Day Challenge. It was a massive goal given that we raised just under $6,000 in 2015. I'm proud to say that we not only met our goal, we smashed it! We raised $13,270 thanks to the great generosity of all those who joined us on the evening, the businesses that donated goods and services, the people who donated online and the passion of my staff.

It's the first year a Diamond Award has been presented to an Australian optometry practice. Optometry Giving Sight’s national country manager, Ron Baroni, officially presented us with the award last week at Sure Eye Care.

At the presentation, Mr Baroni explained that funds raised through World Sight Day Challenge not only help by providing the eye exams and glasses to restore people’s vision, but also “teach them to fish” so that communities can help themselves. “In June 2016, 20 optometry students graduated in Nicaragua, a country that's never had access to optometrists before,” said Mr Baroni. “This means the estimated 1 million people in Nicaragua who are needlessly vision impaired, many of whom are children, now have access to locally trained optometrists who can provide sustainable vision care services.”

I dreamed of being an optometrist since I was 15 years old. The fact that our fundraising means that other young people will achieve that goal is a priceless reward. The fact that they'll then help millions of people see is extraordinary.

I sincerely thank all our attendees, donors, sponsors and staff who have been involved in Highballs for Eyeballs over the years. Without your help, Gordon and I couldn't achieve our vision of helping prevent blindness not just locally, but globally! ~ Amanda

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