Barbecue and dance raises record amount for Vision is Priceless
The scent of barbecued ribs and slow-roasted chicken wafts through the air. You can hear the guys around the cookers laughing and joking as they work over the hot coals. Then there’s the rhythmic noise of the knives as still more volunteers cut the ribs into single-serving pieces. This is the recent 22nd annual Barbecue and Country Western Dance to benefit the Vision Is Priceless Council.
For all these years, the event has been hosted by a trio of dedicated community servants. Al Kinard, Ed Witt Sr. and Lynwood Roberts invited friends and co-workers to support the vision screening programs of the local community at the event.
“We’ve had this event for 22 years and we’ve always had it as a fun event for the volunteers who work hard all year. It’s good for the Vision Is Priceless Council, and we’ve always enjoyed working on it,” Witt said.
Now, as a major fund-raiser for VIP, the event is critical to ensuring that area children and adults receive free vision screenings for vision development disorders and eye diseases such as glaucoma.
With the recent death of Roberts, the hosts decided to make this year’s event a special tribute to him and recognize his dedication to the community over many years. Nearly 300 people turned out for the event, and a record-breaking $30,000 was raised.
“Lynwood was a great friend to the VIP Council,” said Witt. “He was like a brother to me. We played golf and did all kinds of fun things together. When he had a charitable event, we helped him, and when we needed help, he helped us.”
“We miss Lynwood a lot and want to carry on this tradition by getting our sons involved,” said Witt. This year the leadership of the event passed from the three traditional hosts to their sons–Al Kinard Jr., Ed Witt Jr. and Ronnie Roberts.
“With this passing of the gavel, so to speak, the three new hosts have quite a bit to live up to in the coming years,” said Carol Baumer, executive director of the Vision Is Priceless Council. “We are so pleased at the success of this event.”
Each year the event draws hundreds of people from throughout the South. This year, Katie Jackson made the trek from Panama City Beach.
“The food was absolutely delicious. It was a very festive environment, great music, many couples got up dancing. I didn’t know anybody and people felt like old friends by the end of the night.”
The event also provided a bit of an education for Jackson, a mother of three.
“I didn’t realize that it was such a big deal to get your vision screened during the preschool years. I think it’s such a great service that VIP provides.”
VIP screeners visit private and parochial schools, as well as nursery schools, day care centers and family day cares to screen the vision of children. Especially in young children, vision screening is important to identify abnormalities that may hinder proper vision development.
“Education and awareness are important parts of how VIP works to keep Northeast Florida eyes healthy,” said Baumer.
“Just like Katie, many parents aren’t aware of the importance of vision screening for young children. We are so grateful for the dedicated volunteers who make sure we are able to reach out to the children and adults in our area every year.”
Most especially, the entire staff, board and volunteers from the Vision Is Priceless Council are grateful for the dedication Lynwood Roberts showed to the organization over so many years.
“Lynwood was very special to us, and he will live in our hearts and memories for many, many years,” said Baumer.
The non-profit Vision Is Priceless Council works to preserve the vision of Northeast Florida residents through programs such as free screening and early detection of potential eye disease. For more information, call 308-2020 or visit Jacksonville.com, keywords: vision is priceless.