About 2.2 billion people in the world suffer from vision impairments or blindness. Connor Devish, a senior finance major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, wants to help them.
Devish is creating a Give Sight registered student organization at UNL to encourage students to use the Give Sight app and donate through exercise.
The RSO is based on the nonprofit organization Give Sight Global, which, according to its website, strives to provide cataract surgery and eye care to patients in underserved areas of the world.
Devish is looking forward to getting more people and organizations involved in Give Sight and using it to make a difference in the lives of others. He wants to work closely with Campus Recreation to host workout competitions with prizes and is looking to get Greek organizations and intramural teams involved.
“There’s a lot of areas in the world where people don’t have health care or eye care,” he said. “They just work until they can’t work anymore, and they don’t have retirement.”
Give Sight Global was founded by Justin Nabity and Reid Lancaster, who Devish worked with at a financial advising firm in Omaha called Physicians Thrive.
Nabity, who graduated from UNL in 2005, said he first saw the need for Give Sight Global when he went on a volunteer eye care trip to Navajo Nation. On that trip, he said he saw the tremendous need for eye care in underserved areas.
“I learned that more than 50% of those 2.2 billion people [with vision impairments] could have their vision restored if they had access to surgery or glasses,” he said. “All they need is vision correction, and they will see 20/20.”
Anyone who downloads the Give Sight app can sync it with a workout tracker on a device, such as the Health app on an iPhone, Devish said. Then, for every 120 calories burned, the app will donate $1 toward curing blindness.
“If someone’s not working out, now they have a reason to because not only is their health on the line, but the opportunity for someone to see is on the line,” he said. “And, for someone already working out, the calories they burn are going to waste because they could be channeling them into what we’re doing.”
According to Nabity, the money comes from individual and corporate donors, and Give Sight Global has access to all the surgery teams that do this work globally. The nonprofit receives donations of glasses and frames and has optometrists who give free local eye exams. Overall, it only takes an average of $25 to restore someone’s vision.
Through the organization, Nabity helped restore the sight of a 102-year-old man who had gone blind in 1997. Getting his vision back meant he could return to work, and he was so moved that he sang a song to relay his thanks.
“That’s the most rewarding thing,” Nabity said. “Being able to see somebody go from not being able to enjoy God’s design for our eyes, to them getting the correction and [seeing] the change that happens to them.”
Informational meetings for the RSO will be held on Jan. 22 and Feb. 5 and are open to the public. After Feb. 5, regular meetings will be held every other Wednesday. All meetings are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. in Room 108 of the Outdoor Adventure Center.
“Meetings will mostly be for organizing events we will be having,” Devish said. “We will talk about the [lack of eye care] problem and different ways we can solve it.”
Nabity said it is hard to put into words how pleased he is that Devish went from being an intern at his company to wanting to bring awareness about Give Sight Global onto UNL’s campus. He believes Devish can make a big difference with the new RSO.
“Getting the word out on campus is an amazing way to dig in and energize the university to move their bodies,” he said. “It’s students bettering themselves and then changing someone else’s life at the same time.”