William Evans, a fourth-year medical student at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC), enjoys the feeling of community that surrounds the Race for Sight.
“I love witnessing the support that it generates to help restore vision,” Evans, this year’s race director, said. “The Race for Sight has helped to cement my passion for serving the underserved and inspired me to seek out means of serving my community as a future physician.”
The race, in its second year, is the main community fundraiser for the Ivan Marais Cataract-A-Thon, which helped more than 50 patients from Memphis and surrounding area last year. The third annual Cataract-A-Thon will take place in June at UTHSC.
The race is sponsored by the Hamilton Eye Institute (HEI) Lions Club and helps to alleviate some of the costs associated with the cataract-a-thon. It will take place on Saturday, February 16, at the Tour De Wolf Pavilion at Shelby Farms Park, located at 6903 Great View Drive North, Memphis. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go toward the upcoming event.
The cataract-a-thon has provided free cataract evaluation, surgery, and post-operative care to the underserved and in-need populations across the southeastern United States. Surgeons, anesthesiologists, and nurses volunteer a significant amount of their time to provide services and medical device companies donate supplies to the cause.
Evans has been involved with the race since it began, starting as a volunteer, but is now involved to the fullest extent as race director. “My role involves planning and organizing the race date and location, contract negotiations, handling liabilities, advertising, and developing a website among other responsibilities,” he said. “I am also coordinating all of the other amazing volunteers who are helping make this race happen. It’s a challenge that requires learning as you go, but it’s been an amazing experience. My personal goals for this year’s race are to increase attendance, promote community engagement, and raise enough money to allow us to help as many people as possible.”
The cataract-a-thon honors ophthalmologist and cataract surgery innovator Ivan Marais, MD, who died in 2017. Originally from South Africa, Dr. Marais was an ophthalmology instructor at UTHSC and Hamilton Eye Institute where he trained many residents in cataract surgery.
The sign-up fee for the race is $20 and includes a t-shirt. Everyone is encouraged and welcome to participate. To register, go here.