Robby’s Story

Robby Holmes was just 19 years old when a BB pellet forever changed how he would view the world. Though his is a story with its fair share of pain and difficulty, it is one worth telling for it is also a story of perseverance, forgiveness, empowerment, and community. As is often the case with tales that bear repeating, degrees of chance and circumstance have conspired to create a story with deeper meaning and a more satisfying resolution involving both men, a new non-profit organization, the local community, and Lions VisionGift.

15 years ago Robby was driving through his home town of Ida Grove, Iowa when a stainless steel BB pellet, fired from the side of the road by a young man, struck Robby’s right eye. The damage done by the ricocheting projectile necessitated multiple surgeries in the intervening years, starting with his first cornea transplant and leading up to his recent successful operation this past summer for the glaucoma which developed 8 years ago.

Never one to take the “poor me” philosophy on the events of those days, Robby has harnessed a natural enthusiasm for life and poured it into his passions of music and community. His gregarious nature and kind spirit are immediately evident upon meeting him and have helped Robby become a respected member of his local community, through his community music promotion efforts. Given the impact of his work for local artists, it is of no surprise that his community responded to his developing plight surrounding paying for additional eye surgery.

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Teresa Rambaud

Teresa Rambaud was only 14 when she was diagnosed with Keratoconus – a progressive eye disease that affects the cornea. In spite of this, at the age of 17, Teresa was able to visit Silverton, Oregon as an exchange student from Mexico.

By the time Teresa was 20, she had become totally blind. Life was dark and difficult at times, and she would often fall and hurt herself. Teresa was incredibly grateful for the care and support of the teachers and classmates who got her through school – assisting with studying and even giving her tests orally. But Teresa’s family made the greatest sacrifices, assisting her each day and routinely loading their large family into the car for 12-hour round trips to El Paso, Texas, to see eye specialists. Teresa got through it by focusing on the good moments of her life. She says, “Even when I was blind, I have always been able to see my blessings.” 

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Mary Marcelonis: LVG’s First Donor for Ocular Research

When Lions VisionGift opened a location in the Seaport area of Boston in 2017, one of our commitments to the local community was to finally make ocular research tissue donation a reality. Two years later, on June 13th, 2019, LVG made good on that commitment. But it wasn’t LVG alone, it took one woman’s lifetime of giving, and the tenacity of her loving son to make it happen.

The day before, June 12th, Brian Marcelonis was contemplating what to do once his mother, Mary Murphy Marcelonis, who suffered from dementia, passed away. Having recently looked through some family files and spoken with his mother, Brian was proud of the fact that both his grandmother and mother wished to have their brains donated for dementia research. While he knew of his mother’s wishes to donate her brain for research, he wondered if there was anything more that could be done to help others with eye issues as there were many members of his mother’s family that had suffered from eye problems. As Brian says, “That’s what my mom was all about, helping other people”.

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