DENVER — In Von Miller’s earliest memories of attending school, he’s wearing glasses.
And they weren’t the stylish pairs he dons today.
In his best recollection, they were round, wire frames that were often bent.
“Stuart Little, did he wear glasses?” said Miller on Wednesday night. “It was kind of like that.”
That description drew laughs from the dozen children sitting in front of Miller and his new Von’s Vision center at the Broncos Boys & Girls Club.
The kiosk, equipped with the necessary equipment to check kids’ vision, displayed pairs and pairs of glasses that were a far cry from what Miller wore while in school.
“I wore them year-round,” Miller said, “no matter if they were bent, taped, lenses popping out, [no] ear rests, [no] nose rests. My mom would find a way to fix it.
“With Von’s Vision, you guys don’t have to worry about that.”
The center is just the latest step in Miller’s attempt to bring better, affordable vision to those who need it most. Now, kids won’t have to worry about finding transportation to a remote Von’s Vision day. They can enjoy the same benefits within the comfort of their own Boys & Girls Club.
“The Boys & Girls Club has just been the foundation for Von’s Vision,” Miller said. “Some of these kids that we have at this Boys & Girls Club, we’ve had them at multiple Von’s Vision days, so we just felt it was right to bring Von’s Vision to them. We had a couple of children that had transportation problems, and this solves everything. We’re bringing everything that we had on the exam days to the kids.”
Naja’Ray West, an eighth grader who is a member at the Boys & Girls Club, was one of the very first recipients of a pair of glasses from Von’s Vision. Before she got the glasses at age 8, she wasn’t able to see the board from the back of her classroom. That now seems like a far-removed issue, and she’s seen Von’s Vision grow over the course of several years.
“It makes me happy because I know I was one of the first, and now it just brings [opportunities to] more kids,” West said. “And I can see it’s getting bigger. Now he has his traveling [centers]. First it was just at a building and they didn’t have a lot of stuff, and now you can travel with it.”
Rich Barrows, the director of the Broncos Boys & Girls Club, said he hopes to see other students reap the same benefits as West.
“We’ve been blessed,” Barrows said. “We have so many exceptional young folks here, and it’s just so exciting that Von’s able to give them an opportunity. I mean, there’s nine failing schools in this neighborhood. And maybe some of [the students] can’t see the board. They’re going to have the opportunity to get glasses right here, right now.”
But Miller has no plans to stop growing his foundation. He compared the unveiling of this mobile center to his Super Bowl 50 win, but just as he is on the field, he’s eager to find more success for Von’s Vision.
“I would like to have Von’s Vision to match my success on the football field,” Miller said. “I would like to be the same Von I am off the field that I am on the football field. The first vision center here at the Boys & Girls club is the very first step. Eventually, we have dreams and aspirations to have this in every single Boys & Girls Club in the Denver area and then branch out to every single Boys & Girls Club in the nation.
“We have huge dreams, huge aspirations — just like I do on the football field. So it goes hand in hand.”