Janet goes to North Dakota!

From Janet's Journal Blog

Posted March 18, 2008

A record breaking 32-below-zero didn’t stop the North Dakota Optometric Association (NDOA) on March 6-7 from giving me a warm welcome. As their guest keynote speaker from Chicago, Illinois, it was an honor to share my story and mission with an eager and thankful group.

I met many great eye doctors and people who want the best in children’s eye care such as: Dr. Melanie and Clayton Oltmanns; Dr. David Biberdorf; Dr. Mark Moen; Dr. Avery Jones; Dr. Mark Helgesen; Dr. Dori Carlson; Dr. Bob and Gloria Nyre; Dr. Nate and Angie Shilman; Dr. Kyle Krein; Dr. Steve Looysen; Dr. Geoffrey Rath; Dr. Jim Helmers; Dr. Kristin Engstrom; Dr. Meredith Clark; Dr. Greg Otto, David Waterman and Charity Reitneier from Waterman Video, Tracy Thomas from NDOA, and NDOA Executive Director Nancy Kopp and her husband Bill.

The hockey game Friday night was a real treat, too. The University of North Dakota’s state-of-the-art arena was magnificent! Thank you, NDOA, for the souvenir Fighting Sioux tee-shirt and sweatshirt. I love it! Thank you again, Nancy, for inviting me to your great state.

I also met another great mom when my plane transferred in Minnesota. She emailed me last month after reading about Illinois’ new eye exam law in the December 2007 issue of Primary Care Optometry News. (Read the full story on the Vision First Foundation website. Yeah! Thanks to my awesome brother, the Vision First website is finally “live!”) It was nice to put a face to a name. Her daughter’s vision problem went undetected by an ophthalmologist! More about this mom later as we work together on future legislation in her state.

Do you believe my husband only called me once? As my first time away from all five kids, he had everything under control. God bless him for being a great dad and husband. I would not be able to volunteer and help others without his support.

My flight was another story. Ah yes…I found relief from that awful ringing in my ears since the cicadas were in Chicago this past summer. My tinnitus met its match when I was on that airplane—engine jet noise! But no…my luggage had a mind of its own and ended up in Austin, Texas. My first presentation was not in my planned black suit with black patent Vera Wang spiked heels.

Thanks to Clayton and his kindness to cart me around town Friday morning, I was able to go shopppppping for make-up and clothes before show time at noon. I found a cute pink Chaps sweater and tight Daisy Fuentes hip-hugger jeans on clearance at my favorite store, Kohl’s, to make me a “cool mom” when giving my talk. (According to my girls, “cool” is the opposite of “old-fashioned.”) At 70% off the regular price, the nice manager also gave me an extra 15% off my total purchase because the airlines lost my luggage. “Cool mom?” Hey…I’m a “smart mom!”

I found humor in this awful position. God has a way of turning troubles into something good, even though I think all baggage handlers could benefit from a complete eye exam.

I opened my talk with the ABC’s of luggage care:

A—Always: Attach anything awesome to your bag. When the airlines asked me to describe my luggage, I wish I could have said, “My bag is the navy blue American Tourister with neon pink polka-dots.”

B—Be proactive: Bring “babies” on board. Anything you can’t live without, within federal regulations, bring it on board in a carry-on bag.

C—Check, Check, Check: Check the checked tag carefully. The tag should match your airlines, flight number, and destination. If there is a plane transfer, question if the appropriate tags are being used. Ask if an eye-catching “priority” tag can be added to ensure your bag arrives with you.

Thanks to Tracy, my PowerPoint that was emailed during the week was ready to go, even though I wished we had a trial run first. My “Mother’s Mission” went smoothly despite a few glitches and some laughs amidst a serious topic. During the ending, my cell phone rang. Yikes…in my mad rush, I forgot to turn off my cell phone before my talk!

The presentation ended with several pointed questions that needed clear direct answers. One optometrist told me afterwards that she liked the fact I didn’t “waffle” between screenings and exams.

The solution to me is in black and white. When it comes to our eyes, we cannot afford to waffle in that gray area. Complete examinations by an eye doctor are the only way to find eye and vision problems.

Was that call from my husband? No, it was the airlines…they found my luggage!

I hope the many new friends and fine eye doctors I met in North Dakota will join us in our campaign. Next to finding lost luggage and a great bargain at Kohl’s, the “Kids Eyes Count Campaign” by Vision First is the best deal in town.


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"He who stops being better stops being good.”
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