Hays County Commissioners Court Proclaims October 15 as ‘White Cane Day’ in Hays County to Support Blindness Treatment and Prevention
Hays County Courthouse, San Marcos, TX – On Tuesday the Hays County Commissioners Court proclaimed Sunday, October 15 as White Cane Day in Hays County and thanked the San Marcos Lions Club for its efforts to raise funds to help people affected by vision problems.
The club also promotes awareness of the white cane, a symbol of the independence, confidence and skills of those with vision challenges. The white cane is a simple design, very low-tech and almost 100 years old. Yet it continues to save lives, open doors of opportunity and bring awareness about blindness to people around the world.
Lion Club member Samantha Armbruster invited residents to stop by either of two local businesses on Saturday, October 14, to donate to the fight against blindness and to learn more about the white cane program and the Lions Club work to help those with vision problems. Club members will accept donations from 10 a.m. to noon at the HEB on East Hopkins Street (the “big” HEB) and at Walmart on Highway 80.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley thanked the Lions Club for being “one of the strongest civic clubs in Hays County.” He noted that members donate thousands of volunteer hours and raise thousands of dollars annually to help make the community successful.
The San Marcos Lions Club and the San Marcos Bluebonnet Lions Club regularly volunteer equipment and service hours to test local children for vision problems. They use the high-tech Spot Vision Screener, a handheld, portable device designed to help users quickly and easily detect vision issues on patients from six months of age through adult.
Lions also work to battle blindness through their Eyeglass Recycling Center in Midland, the Lone Star Eye Bank in nearby Manor as well as mission groups and training teams which travel to foreign countries to help those in dire need of vision help.
History of the White Cane
It was 1921 when James Biggs, a photographer from Bristol, England, became blind following an accident. Because he was feeling uncomfortable with the amount of traffic around his home, he painted his walking stick white to be more easily visible.
In 1930, Lion George A. Bonham, president of the Peoria Lions Club, introduced the idea of using the white cane with a red band as a means of assisting the blind in independent mobility. The Peoria Lions approved the idea, white canes were made and distributed, and the Peoria City Council adopted an ordinance giving the bearers the right-of-way to cross the street.
News of the club’s activity spread quickly to other Lions clubs throughout the United States, and their visually handicapped friends experimented with the white canes. Overwhelming acceptance of the white cane idea by the blind and sighted alike quickly gave cane users a unique method of identifying their special need for travel consideration among their sighted counterparts.
In 1931 in France, Guilly d’Herbemont recognized the danger to blind people in traffic and launched a national
“white stick movement” for blind people. She donated 5,000 white canes to people in Paris.
Today white cane laws are on the books of every state in the United States and in a few other countries, providing persons who are blind a legal status in traffic. The white cane universally acknowledges that the bearer is blind. For specific information contact your local government office for motor vehicles.
For Lions clubs around the world, making people aware of the importance of the white cane has always been a natural extension of their role as “Knights of the Blind.” In a speech to the Lions Clubs International Foundation Convention in 1925, Hellen Keller urged Lions to take up the fight against blindness.
Keller said: "Will you not help me hasten the day when there shall be no preventable blindness, no little deaf blind child untaught, no blind man or woman unaided? I appeal to you, Lions – you who have your sight, your hearing, you who are strong and brave and kind – will you not constitute yourselves Knights of the Blind in my crusade against darkness?"
The Lions accepted her challenge and their work ever since has included sight programs aimed at preventable blindness.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Mark Jones, Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe, San Marcos Lions Club members Sylvia Deleon-Muzzy and Julie Hoffman, Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley, Lions Club members Samantha Armbruster, Mitch Hoffman and David Peterson, and Precinct 4 Commissioner Ray Whisenant announce that Sunday, October 15, is White Cane Day in Hays County.