Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller Is Saving Vision for Underprivileged Kids
Advocacy Each year, more than 5,000 low-income first-grade students enter the Denver Public School System without having seen an eye doctor. Von Miller is looking to change that.
“I've worn glasses all my life,” Miller, linebacker for the Denver Broncos, tells Mediaplanet. “In second or third grade, I had to wear my glasses while I played football. I can relate to kids who want to see better in the classroom or on the field.”
Eye care for everybody
In 2013, Miller started Von’s Vision, a foundation that provides underprivileged children with free eye exams and eyewear. For one day, a Denver-area school serves as a clinic where students can get screened, have an eye exam, shop for frames and receive new glasses within an hour.
“You can’t underestimate the importance of eye exams,” Miller explains. “Roughly 80 percent of what children learn in school is presented visually, so these vision programs can have a profound impact on learning.”
Though he’s struggled with seeing clearly all his life, Miller says he wouldn’t be where he is today if he hadn’t faced these issues.
“In second or third grade, I had to wear my glasses while I played football. I can relate to kids who want to see better in the classroom or on the field.”
Eye on the prize
“I didn’t want to use my eyesight as an excuse. If I have to wear glasses, I’m going to wear glasses. If I have to wear contacts, I’ll wear contacts. I wanted to be equal,” explains the Super Bowl 50 MVP. “When you’re on the football field, the basketball court or on a track, all of the issues go out the window and it’s all about competing.”
Ninety-five percent of first grade nonreaders have significant vision problems. They have nearly 2.5 times more visual problems than first grade high achievers. Miller says, for him, assisting children in need brings a great deal of satisfaction
“Seeing the impact that we’ve had on children in these communities is a great feeling, and that’s enough for me,” he laughs. “I like to make people feel good, and that’s what I get from all of this. It feels really great to help people.”