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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Flipdaddy's Helps Continue Opticare Vision Centers Goal of Having More "Piper-Moments"

Flipdaddy's Makes Donation to Fort Thomas Lions Club and InfantSee
Baby Piper on the lap of her mother, Jessica Sinclair, with her father, Andrew Verdusco, and big brother next to them. FTM file.
Before Jessica Sinclair shot the video of her daughter Piper trying on glasses for the first time, now seen over 40 million times, she was worried that the 10-month old wasn't hitting important development milestones. "She wasn't crawling yet. Our pediatrician sent us to Dr. (Josiah) Young and the rest is history," she said.

Dr. Josiah Young, a Fort Thomas resident and Optometrist at Opticare Vision Centers in Newport wasn't surprised. "I know it sounds strange for a 10-month old baby to be in glasses, but trust me, this is something we want to do. I told them we would bring her back and monitor her progress and stick with her and make sure that she is developing the right way.”

On Thursday, Flipdaddy's presented donations to InfantSEE® and the Fort Thomas Lions Club in the name of Piper Verdusco.
Piper's family with COO and CEO of Flipdaddy's, Ed Biery and Bob Dames. FTM file. 
“The viral video of baby Piper being able to see her parents clearly for the first time really touched us,” said Bob Dames, Flipdaddy’s CEO and Founder. “Like many others, we had been unaware of the need for some children to have an eye exam at that age. When you see Piper look through her new glasses for the first time, it’s apparent that her quality of life has been improved dramatically. We want to make sure other children and their families are aware of the wonderful services doctors like Dr. Young and the Lions Club provide.”

But before that video crossed hemispheres and the donation by Flipdaddy's and the press conference and the interviews, Dr. George Landon and Dr. Ronald Cooke had an occasional empty chair in their Newport Opticare office and decided they wanted to do some good.

Dr. Keith Sellers (left) and Dr. Josiah Young (right) with Dr. George Landon (front) and the rest of the Opticare staff with Baby Piper's family at Flipdaddy's. FTM file. 
"We were young and had energy and the (patient's) chair wasn't filled all the time, so we told the Fort Thomas Lions Club to bring them in," said Landon.

Landon said the Fort Thomas Lions Club would find and qualify people in need. "The Lions Club would screen the patients and send them to us. There was no dealing with medicaid or other programs then. They always assured us that the people they sent us were truly needy and so we would do what we could to make sure their sight was corrected," he said.

According to Landon, the club would pay $22 dollars for an eye exam to to make a pair of glasses for them. "As an Optometrist, I've seen the reaction like Piper has had many times, but to have it captured in the video so the world can see it is wonderful. It's exposing what we live," said Landon.

J.R. Stull is the President of the Fort Thomas Lions Club. The club will celebrate their 75th anniversary this year and has always been committed to sight conservation as their mission.  "Even as President of the Lions Club with our main goal being sight conservation, I wasn't familiar with the program that Dr. Young is involved with. I had heard of it, but didn't realize that it was a free program. It just goes to show the power that this video had," said Stull.

J.R. Stull, Dr. Josiah Young, Piper's family, and Bob Dames. FTM file. 
The Lions Club provides assistance for the exam and glasses and Opticare provide the glasses frames at no cost. Opticare performs the examination and make the glasses at a discounted rate for the Lions Club. Ultimately, the patient has no out-of-pocket expense, and receives a thorough eye exam and a nice pair of glasses.

Opticare Vision Center also serves as a donation spot for the Lions Club. Once old glasses are donated, they are cleaned and sorted by prescription before being distributed to to those in need.

Over the years, financial issues have caused some of the Lions Club chapters throughout the area to dissolve or cut back on services provided to the community, but The Fort Thomas Lions Club is now one of the only chapters in the area that still actively participates in the vision program.

Young said that because of the video, he has already started to see an increase in young patients in his office. "The books are starting to fill up fast. The awareness of getting kids eyes checked has been the forefront of this and you've got to give the family all the credit in the world," he said. "I don't know what you normally do with internet fame, but they have chosen to turn that into this awareness. That's the whole goal to get them checked as early as you can."

Now, a day after she has turned one, Piper is not only crawling, but she's hauling. "She's pretty fast," said Sinclair. "She's also getting used to her glasses. She used to take them off and bang them like drumsticks, but she doesn't mind them much at all."

Piper Verdusco. FTM file. 

Dames and COO of Flipdaddy's, Ed Biery, said they wanted to show appreciation and bring awareness to other families that may not know how important infant eye exams are.

Biery, a Newport Central Catholic alumni, said the video playing out in his hometown and in the restaurant he helps run was serendipitous. "It was such a positive thing and I think that's why it spread. Some people who had viewed it saw the Flipdaddy's logo in the background of the video and had thought that was something we had planned, but it truly was Piper's reaction that made the entire thing. We were just lucky and blessed to have been apart of it."

But Biery, who admitted to watching the video over 25 times, explained the Flipdaddy's logo in the video almost wasn't apart of the viral video at all. "I watched during construction before we opened, our workers put up columns that would have blocked off the room. As soon as I saw them up, I had them take the columns out immediately. I wanted the room to feel apart of the restaurant and as fate would have it Jessica, Andrew and Piper decided to sit directly in front of it," he said.

The donation to InfantSEE will help 7,300 optometrists across the country raise awareness of the need for infant eye care. InfantSEE-affiliated doctors provide a one-time, comprehensive eye assessment to infants in their first year of life at no cost. The donation to the Fort Thomas chapter of the Lions Club will help fund comprehensive eye exams and preventive care for those in need in Northern Kentucky.

Flipdaddy’s challenges everyone who has watched the video of Piper to make a donation to InfantSEE and/or his or her local Lions Club. “We’ve learned that one in 10 infants examined are found to have vision problems – and it goes up to almost one in four when children get into school. If everyone does their part, those children will get the life-changing care they need, just like Piper did, and develop without setbacks,” Dames said.

Dr. Young is on the Board of Advisors of the ECP Network, which is a group of group of independent optometrists who believe that patient care is job number one. Ben Krieger, Vice President of services for the ECP Network, was also at the press conference at Flipdaddy's. "At the end of the day everyone got into this profession to help people and when kids are at the forefront, everyone can understand our mission better," he said. "It's been a very good thing for our profession. We couldn't have planned it better."

FTM file. 


  1. This is the best article I've read on this. So cool. Great work.

  2. WOW! Thanks for sharing this wonderful story of baby Piper. I know this will help and inspire others.

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