An Aggie football star is continuing to make his mark on campus, tackling the need for vision care among some Texas A&M students.
The Von’s Vision Foundation was created in 2012 by Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller, Class of 2011. After forming a partnership with Student Health Services, the third Von’s Vision Center and the first at A&M was opened in the Beutel Health Center on Wednesday to provide eligible students with free eye exams and glasses.
The free vision center will serve undergraduate students receiving financial aid who register for one of the center’s openings. These events will take place on the third Wednesday of every month except December and January. Registration will open up two weeks before the assigned appointment time, and students sign up on a first come, first served basis. When attending an appointment, students will need to bring their financial aid award letter printed from the Howdy portal to show they qualify for the free eye exam and glasses.
Austin Alley, director of client operations for Von’s Vision Foundation, said prior to November of 2018, the foundation was only able to hold yearly events, but expanding this program from its birthplace of Colorado to Texas A&M has allowed the foundation to create a greater impact for students who need but may not be able to afford eye care.
“For a lot of the kids, it was in a location that was maybe hard to get to,” Alley said. “We were holding it on Saturday morning and there were transportation barriers that existed, so we wanted to develop a program that would allow Von and his foundation to impact kids on a more regular basis and make it more convenient for those who we are trying to impact.”
Since Student Health Services does not have an optometry department, the foundation reached out to local optometrists to volunteer their time to this new vision center. Each month, there are about 24 students that can be seen by the doctors. Alyssa Seivert, health communications and marketing manager for Student Health Services, said that she hopes they will be able to bring in more volunteers and increase the amount of students they see.
“The hope is that if we can get more optometrists here in the building, then I am sure we can easily double our numbers,” Seivert said. “I have had students reach out to me, knowing that the sign-ups are full, asking when the October sign-ups will be released.”
The Delta Gamma sorority at A&M supports Miller’s foundation and other vision-related causes through its philanthropy, Service for Sight. Delta Gamma member and mechanical engineering junior Ellie Pasquarette said the women volunteer at Von’s Vision events to help spread the word and assist people who are doing vision testing.
“We will be here every month with the vision center,” Pasquarette said. “We have been super excited to get involved with them, so we are glad they are here. We’ve been receiving information from them and have been finalizing logistics from the volunteer side.”
Von Miller’s mother, Gloria Miller, was representing her son at the ceremony on Wednesday and said she was proud to see what a positive impact he was having on a community and school he loves so much.
“This is a great feeling because I know how much he loves A&M and how much it means to him to come back and be able to give something back to which he got so much from to help him get to his next level,” Gloria Miller said. “To him, that is the most important thing. He was able to use his platform in a positive way to give back to the community.”
Although Miller was not able to be at the event himself, he said in a statement that after everything A&M has given him, he is honored to give back in this way.
“I’m excited to bring Von’s Vision’s outreach to the campus of Texas A&M University,” Miller said. “The time I spent at Texas A&M helped launch my career in professional football and get me to where I’m at today, so it is an honor to have Von’s Vision impacting students at my alma mater. Gig ‘em!”