Essilor has provided free vision screenings and lenses to athletes at the Special Olympics since 2002. Timothy P. Shriver, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the organisation, explains what this contribution means to them.

“Essilor treats the athletes participating in Special Olympics as premium customers. Some of the athletes could see their parents and friends clearly for the first time in their lives thanks to lenses and glasses fitting their needs, but it gives them so much more than good vision. It helps them build a feeling of dignity. It changes the way they see themselves and changes others participating in our movement.”

“It gives them so much more than good vision. It helps them build a feeling of dignity.”

This summer in Athens, more than 6,000 athletes gathered for the Special Olympics World Summer Games. Essilor was there too as a global partner of Special Olympics through the Lions Club Opening Eyes program. Volunteers were witness to the empowering nature of the competition.

“Sport is the glue of the movement,” said Dr. Shriver. “It brings confidence, skill and determination which provide the basis to build a community and change mentalities. These events are the only place where they have an opportunity to develop belief in themselves.”

More than 2,500 screenings were performed and 1,300 eyeglass lenses were given to the participating athletes. Bairamoglou, the Group’s Greek distributor and a long term partner of Essilor, edged lenses onsite to produce lenses hours after screening.

As Dr Shriver explained, giving is a two way process. Volunteers find a community where spirit and joy are infectious:

“Many of them tell us that they receive much more than they give.”