Blessing the vision van

WAILUA — The new Project Vision van was dedicated Friday during the Lions District 50 convention taking place at the Hilton Garden Inn at Wailua Beach.

“This vision van is possible because of the help from the Lions,” said Anne Valintin of Project Vision and a member of the Palolo Lions Club. “Kaiser Permanente donated the van which used to be used for outreach mammograms on the Big Island. We outfitted it with the equipment needed for the free vision screening and had it wrapped and logos applied to make it the Project Vision van.”

In addition to the van, Dr. Kapua Medeiros of the Kauai clinic will present the Lions with a check for $40,000 on Saturday, which will help with the operations of the van, said Laura Lott, communications director for Kaiser Permanente.

Originally, plans called for the van to be on Kauai for six months, and it would be shared with Maui for the other six months of the year, Valintin said. However, as the Legislature drew to a close, Lions were notified that there will be funds available to keep the van on Kauai full time. Maui will have its own Project Vision van along with Hawaii Island and Oahu.

Project Vision is a mobile screening unit that provides free vision screenings and advocates for the early detection of eye diseases and disorders. The unit is equipped with state-of-the-art digital imaging equipment that takes high quality photos of the inside of the eye in less than 10 minutes, according to the Project Vision website. Opthalmologists who review the images can detect eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts.

Roy Nishida, the Lions past district governor and co-chair of the convention, said it’s been five years since Valintin first approached the Kauai Lions Clubs about helping with the Project Vision van.

Ashleigh Klein, the Kauai Project Vision van coordinator, said the van will be parked at the Hilton through the weekend, and invited Hilton Garden Inn general manager Ray Blouin to extend an invitation for Hilton associates to take advantage of the free vision screening.

Harvey Kinoshita, the Lions District 50 convention co-chair, said there are more than 230 delegates registered for the weekend convention which started with the flag ceremony Thursday evening.

“We started planning this two years ago with Roy,” said Blouin. “This is the first convention we’re hosting after opening as a Hilton, and we’re glad we’re open and can accommodate all the Lion delegates. We’ve got the Disabled American Veterans convention coming here in early June as well.”

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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