Both the University’s Pennsylvania College of Optometry
and Osborne College of Audiology
students and faculty members provided much-needed health services during the Special Olympics Pennsylvania Fall Festival, held at Villanova University this past weekend. More than 120 comprehensive eye exams were performed, 86 pairs of glasses and sports eyewear were dispensed and more than 40 pairs of sunglasses were distributed, courtesy of Essilor. There were also 189 hearing screenings conducted for athletes. The Special Olympics Pennsylvania Fall Festival is the largest student-run Special Olympics event in the world.
Dr. Brandy Scombordi, pediatric optometrist at the University’s clinical facility, The Eye Institute (TEI)
, supervised students performing eye exams, along with Dr. Byung Josh Kim, primary care optometrist at TEI, while Dr. Lindsay Bondurant oversaw hearing screenings. Dr. Scombordi has been the clinical director for Special Olympics Lion's Club International Healthy Athletes Opening Eyes Philadelphia since 2002. And, Dr. Bondurant previously served as the regional clinical advisor in the Midwest Region for the Special Olympics Healthy Hearing Program for five years.
According to Dr. Scombordi, the event is always meaningful for both athletes and volunteers alike.
“Each year volunteers come back because of the high you get when an athlete puts on their sports goggles and squeals with excitement,” she said. “At this point, we are a family. My children have been coming with me all these years and other volunteers know them all by name. We look forward to catching up with each other and the athletes we serve.
Dr. Bondurant believes the event is also a strong teaching tool for audiology students as they train to serve a variety of patient populations in the future.
“I was very proud of the way our students interacted with the athletes,” she said. “My hope is that, by encouraging Salus students to volunteer for events like the Special Olympics, they will overcome any nervousness they may have about working with people who have intellectual disabilities, and eventually our students will become providers who are well-equipped to include this population in their patient base.”