Rebecca Pickrell, 30, is living a full life. Blind since birth, she was given a Braille printer and a Braille ‘n Speak (a portable PDA) by Lions, attended a Lions Youth Exchange in London as a teenager and received two Leader Dogs. Today a systems engineer for Northrop-Grumman in Virginia, she is married with a 2-1/2 year old daughter. She believes in giving back—even as a 10-yearold when she accompanied her father to a Lions meeting to demonstrate the positive impact new technology could have for the blind. As a Lion, Pickrell sets an example for her daughter Melanie that “giving your time is a good thing,” a lesson she learned from her own parents. She explains, “What I hope to do now is show Lions that if you put the right technology at the right time into someone’s hands, you can change a life. It’s allowed me to be competitive in every aspect of my life—being part of my community and as a wife, mom and at work.” The Metairie Airline Lions Club in Louisiana has a history of enthusiastic support for children, beginning with their steadfast support of the Louisiana Lions Camp outside Leesville. The club sponsors the attendance of youngsters with developmental and physical challenges, diabetes and pulmonary disorders for an eight-week stay every year. Couple their camp support with the club’s Scouts partnership, and it’s obvious their interest in youth runs deep. But no one accused the club of being a two-trick pony. Airline Lions are also heavily involved in the Louisiana Lions Cubsight program, a statewide effort to screen children ages one to five. Airline Lions have screened thousands of children since the early 2000s. The Cubsight program itself has screened more than 77,000, but one child—Brenden Maestri—stands out in particular. The club had the reward two years ago of seeing just how much their Cubsight efforts mean when Jan Maestri, the mother of 15-month-old Brenden Maestri, decided on a whim to have the youngster’s vision screened at a Cubsight screening at his Alpha Montessori school. “I didn’t think about it that much until that day,” Maestri said. “Then I figured, ‘Why not? What’s the harm? All they do is take a picture of his eyes with a special camera.’ So I signed the slip.” The picture of Brenden’s eye showed a retinal blastoma, a rare tumor that can cause vision loss and lead to brain cancer if not detected early. Treatment was successful, Brenden kept his eye, and doctors continue to work to improve his 20/100 vision. “You don’t know what could’ve happened if they didn’t screen Brenden,” Maestri says. “The cancer could have moved to his brain. That vision test might have saved his life.”
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