Posted by: Janet Hughes | March 18, 2008

Janet goes to North Dakota!

159_202Welcome to my first post! I’ll keep you current on eye-opening news on a regular basis. I hope you’ll enjoy my entries and post comments when the spirit moves you.

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: 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.

j0440663The 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.

Copyright (c) 2008 Vision First Foundation. All rights reserved.


  1. Job well done, Jan! All of your hard work will really benefit the children!

  2. Congratulations on your trip to North Dakota. This must mean that your efforts are expanding to the rest of the world. I sure wish you were older than me so that my children could have benefited from your admirable efforts. As a parent of a child who fell through the cracks of ineffective screenings, it is a pleasure to see all this come about.

    I hope others will log on to your web-site and tell their own stories. Best of luck to you!!!!

  3. I loved your story about your North Dakota adventure. I am sure it will be the first of many as Vision First Foundation and the website finally take off! Congratulations!

  4. Janet, your presentation was very impressive. You are a force of nature! Clearly, Arctic temperatures and lost luggage are no barriers for you and your message. Thank you for coming to our state. You are an inspiration to our doctors and an awesome voice for our kids.

  5. Janet:

    I hope this is the first of many journeys to share your important message – I also hope future trips are less eventful!

  6. Janet:

    Great story about your trip to North Dakota.

    Congratulations on getting your web site up and running. It looks terrific.

    You must have one special husband!

  7. Janet, it was great to meet you as you were on your way to North Dakota. Your new website looks great!

    I can’t believe the amount of work you have done on behalf of children’s vision. You have just a ton of information for people to use as they work to improve the lives of children. Absolutely, unbelievable!

    I look forward to working with you as we collaboratively work to improve the lives of children.

    We need to make sure our kids have the tools necessary to make them successful in school and in their lives.

    Thank you for all you’ve done to make a difference in the lives of children!

  8. Janet,

    Your web site is very well done. It’s full of valuable info for parents seldom seen in other sources.

    I applaud your effort to inform parents of the inadequencies of school vision screenings in their ability to properly identify those visual skills crucial to reading and classroom performance.

    Keep up the great work!!!

  9. I was speaking in North Dakota and stayed to hear Janet. I concur with Dr. Poswilko’s view and opinions–Janet is very committed to this process and we’re fortunate to have someone like her working on our side. I see her work meshing well with PAVE and hope that this is the start of a groundswell of parents and other interested parties to support the area of functional vision care.

  10. I am so glad that we have this site. I have 2 children with eye problems that were undetected, one until age 17. I was thinking about starting a campaign such as this but was elated to find one was already up and running. I have found out how your eyes and how they work affect many other aspects of your life. It is sad that many eye doctors especially opthamologists either do not realize this or choose to ignore it.

  11. Guess what…I just learned that I can make comments, too! Please forgive me for not responding sooner. I’m new at blogging.

    I want to thank everyone thus far for reading my first post and sharing a comment: Karen, Dianne, Deborah, Mark, Sue, Linda, Dr. Melanie Oltmanns, Dr. Tom Poswilko, and Dr. Jeffrey Anshel. It truly was great experience to be in North Dakota. I hope the NDOA takes me up on my offer. I’d love to see them join the campaign and get a children’s vision bill passed into ND law.

    Now…for my first comment. Dr. Anshel…you are the lucky one! (I hope I get this right.)

    I remember meeting you in North Dakota. I believe you gave a course on computer vision syndrome. I wish I could have attended. I think I have this problem. My vision has gone from good to bad in the six years that I’ve been working on my computer. I’m glad you are addressing this issue. I believe you can help a lot of people.

    I checked out your website at cvconsulting. It’s great! You have a lot of helpful information on vision health!

    I’m looking forward to learning how I can eat better and keep better habits while on the computer for my vision’s sake. Dr. Anshel…Does this mean my favorite “Black Cherry/French Vanilla Diet Jazz Pepsi loaded with plenty of caffeine so I can work late hours after I put the kiddies to bed” will have to go? Oh no! 🙂

  12. Hi Linda,

    I just got your comment after I posted my comment to Dr. Anshel. Again, I’m still learning how this blogging system works. And for those of you reading this post that aren’t sure how to leave a response…try it. The worst case scenario is that it disappears into cyberspace and you have to start over. That’s happened to me already!

    Linda…I’m thrilled you found Vision First and joined our campaign. May your story help others realize the importance of complete eye and vision exams. Let’s hope our efforts prevent an undetected vision problem from happening again. 🙂

  13. Janet,
    Hmmm, Black Cherry/French Vanilla Diet Pepsi?? Well, I’m sure we can make an exception for someone who works as hard as you do. Just don’t do that for breakfast!! (and take your supplements, of course!) 🙂

    All the best,

  14. Thanks, Dr. Anshel, for your pepsi blessing. I’ll savor my next glass tonight with happiness and peace! And yes, I’m following your doctor’s orders…I won’t be drinking it for breakfast! 🙂

  15. The picture on your homepage does not look like North Dakota! Is that Ireland? Just came back from there…it was beautiful.

    I’m off to Montana to speak at the Montana Optometric Association meeting….I will let all know about how successful Illinois has been (in large part because of your efforts) in getting kids the eye care they need!!

  16. The picture is by Ed Merritt. I’ll have to ask him where he took that fabulous photo. I’ve been getting great feedback on this breathtaking view. I thought it was the perfect compliment to “Janet’s Journal.” How I wish I was there with my pen and paper…

    Please keep me in the loop about your trip to Montana. I’m sure you’ll do a fantastic job speaking. Maybe the MOA is interested in Vision First? 🙂

  17. Wow, Janet…from vision screenings to lost luggage, you sure know how to overcome obstacles!

  18. Yes, I do! And I can sum it up into one word…attitude.

    Here’s a great quote from Sir Winston Churchill: “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

    Remember…always keep yours positive. When a door closes shut, keep your eye on the window of opportunity that opens next. It works for me everytime! 🙂

  19. […] Janet goes to North Dakota! March 18, 2008 North Dakota Optometric Association inspired my first post about my trip as their guest speaker. Also includes the ABC’s of luggage care! […]

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