Contacts now allow Envision teen to ‘enjoy doing things that everyone else does’

Angela Cato - Apr 15, 2019

Tags: Programs    Rehabilitation    Support   
Rondalee Winship is like most 17-year-old girls whose attention is on friends, sports, cheerleading, school and keeping up with the latest makeup trends. Gifted with a naturally competitive spirit, Rondalee’s ability to perfect and expand upon her interests was magnified in 2016 when she received her first set of contacts from the Jeanne and Penny Mishkin Legacy Fund for the Visually Impaired. The fund is administered through the Envision Foundation, with patient care coordinated through the Envision Vision Rehabilitation Center.

A gift made by Penny Mishkin in 2008 to Envision created the fund, named in part to honor her mother, Jeanne. It was established to cover any qualifying patient in need, regardless of age, with the purpose of not only providing contact lenses to improve functional vision, but also other assistive and corrective devices.

Diagnosed with ocular albinism that reduces the pigmentation of the iris and retina, Rondalee attends high school in Gypsum, Kansas. Before her contacts, sensitivity to bright light and glare were her biggest obstacles. That’s no longer the case.

“I am a cheerleader at my high school. Before I got contacts, I had to take off my glasses to practice most of the stunts and tumbling. In addition, cheering outside in the sunlight was challenging,” Rondalee said. “The contacts have helped improve my performance immensely. Now I get to enjoy doing things that everyone else does.”

Rondalee’s outgoing and dynamic personality has made her a standout in her hometown as well as at Envision. She and her family regularly make the 90-mile drive to Wichita to participate in Envision’s programs aimed at youth with visual impairments, such as the Level Up High School Conference and the Envision 100m Dash. Through Envision, she has made even more lifelong friends and capitalized on opportunities to challenge herself physically and academically.

Support Program Coordinator Hannah Christenson continues to be amazed by Rondalee’s increasing levels of confidence. Rondalee recently joined fellow Level Up students Braelyn Falls and Laronzo Villa to form the Bucket Drumming Trio, a skill they learned at the conference. During their debut performance at an Envision Arts exhibit opening reception, the young musicians didn’t miss a beat and were an instant hit with the crowd.

“Rondalee is pursuing her dreams and won’t let anything get in her way,” Hannah said. “She loves math and is now planning for a career in accounting.”

As Rondalee edges toward her career goals, she’s thankful she doesn’t have to worry about the cost of contacts. As a qualifying patient, she is provided a lifetime supply through the Mishkin Legacy Fund.

“The lifetime contacts benefit has been and will continue to be a huge financial blessing for my parents, because I am the seventh of eight children. I wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to continue wearing contacts at college next year,” she said. “When I found out that someone was willing to give such a huge gift out of pure generosity, I was really inspired and hope that someday I can do the same thing for someone else.”

Applications for the Jeanne and Penny Mishkin Legacy Fund for the Visually Impaired are submitted to the Envision Foundation through participating optometrists or other authorized practitioners. Applications may be downloaded online at www.envisionus.com. For more information, contact the Envision Foundation by email at development@envisionus.com or by phone at 316-440-1526.