The Lions Club was founded many years ago with the intent of helping those who struggled with their vision. Whether providing prescription glasses or raising money to provide eye exams to those in need, the mission of the Lions Club remains largely the same today.

For the Vermontville Lions Club, an opportunity to make a profound impact on a local youth while serving that very mission has come to the forefront. And, members are asking the community for its assistance.

On Saturday, July 22, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Village Pavilion, members of the Vermontville Lions Club will serve up hand-made ice cream in celebration of its 5th annual ice cream social. Free will donations are accepted, and all proceeds will benefit 5-year-old Talon Gardner, a Vermontville resident who was born with Septo-Optic Dysplasia.

“From birth, I knew there was something different about my son,” wrote Brittney Gardner in a letter to the Vermontville Lions Club. “His left pupil was white and I noticed it right away.”

Septo-Optic Dysplasia is a rare congenital malformation syndrome that features underdevelopment of the optic nerve, pituitary gland dysfunction, and absence of the septum pellucidum (the midline part of the brain). Talon would undergo multiple surgeries in the first two years of his life before doctors discovered the full nature of his condition. From that point, Brittney said he has been monitored regularly to ensure his body is receiving enough growth hormone.

“He has had continuous testing on his pituitary gland to ensure that it is releasing growth hormones, because if that isn’t monitored, it could stunt his growth and prevent him from experiencing puberty,” Brittney stated.

Moved by Brittney’s letter, the Lions Club decided all donations would benefit Talon, by helping Brittney access visual enhancement aids that can be used at Maple Valley Schools to help Talon and others affected by vision problems enhance their educational experience.

“The purpose of the ice cream social was to provide an event to bring friends and neighbors together for conversation and to renew friendships,” said Lions Club member Russ Laverty. “The club selects a person, family or community project as the focal point for free will donations.”

“Talon is very smart, and I would love to see him thrive in school instead of struggling when there are options available that would make learning much more obtainable and enjoyable for him,” Brittney stated.