The Lions Changed My Life

The Lions Changed My Life

Posted on Feb.28, 2014, by , under Inspirational Stories, Living With Low Vision, Low Vision Info

Hunter Jarman studies hard in school, loves science and devours comic books. Until recently, the 13-year-old faced a significant obstacle to enjoying these pursuits: Jarman has ocular albinism, a genetic condition that reduces the pigmentation in the eye, causing impaired visual acuity, light sensitivity, and eye strain. When Hunter tried out a demo of the merlin Elite desktop video magnifier, his parents, Pam and John, knew the device could make a big difference for their son. A teacher of Hunter’s encouraged them to contact the Lions in their community of Lynchburg, Virginia. The Lynchburg Host and Forest Lions Clubs soon sponsored Hunter to become the first recipient of the Old Dominion Eye Foundation’s Lipomi Lions Vision Fund Award. This gift has given Hunter not only the ability to read to his heart’s content but also a key to more independence.


Q n A Pam Jarman

LION Magazine: Has Hunter been getting a lot of use out of the Merlin?

Pam Jarman: Yes, he’s been using it to read books and do schoolwork. He magnifies his books to the size he needs, and if his eyes get tired he can actually listen to the Merlin read to him. He’s excited to be able to read comic books now. Before, he had to just guess at what was happening and try to look at the pictures. He’s using it for science too—he enlarged and investigated a stink bug up close.

LION Magazine: So the device is helping him learn as well as have fun?

Pam Jarman: He loves it. He’s able to do more on his own now, and that means so much to him and us. Hunter deals with a lot of issues and doesn’t let anything get in his way of succeeding. He has severe scoliosis, mitral valve insufficiency, connective tissue disorder, asthma and a bleeding disorder. He has experienced pain and frustration just about every day of his life, but he handles it so well and is always so positive.

LION Magazine: Hunter sounds like an inspiring young person.

Pam Jarman: He’s very thankful, wants to make everyone happy and is so brave with what he endures. He loves to joke, even with the doctors before his back surgeries. He’ll ask them if they had enough coffee! We’re proud that in 2013 Hunter was chosen as the Virginia representative for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and was Hero of the Month for the Shriners hospital.

LION Magazine: The Lions were glad to help make life a little better for Hunter.

Pam Jarman: We’re so grateful to the Lions for this amazing device that will help Hunter gain independence and have a great life. We’re blessed to have such a great group of caring people in our community.


Hunter Jarman Recipient of First Lipomi Lions Vision Fund Award LYNCHBURG, Virginia District’s 24-B and 24-E –Hunter Jarmon, 13 of Lynchburg, VA has been awarded an assistance grant from the Old Dominion Eye Foundation’s Lipomi Lions Vision Fund to purchase the Merlin Elite HD OCR.


The son of John and Pam Jarman, Hunter has been visually impaired since he was a toddler. Suffering from ocular albinism, he began wearing bifocals at the age of two. The genetic condition reduces the pigmentation of the iris and the retina, which causes impaired visual acuity and depth perception. Hunter is very sensitive to light and is prone to developing eye strain. Large print is necessary to prevent fatigue and migraines. The Merlin Elite is a desktop video magnifier and features a text-to-speech function. It also enlarges the text to a size more comfortable for Hunter to read and is also able to read for him when his eyes become too tired.


Hunter’s mom Pam shared some of the struggles he faces. “We read to Hunter often to try to keep him on the same academic level as his peers. But, he is getting older now and we would love to see him be able to do the things he takes pleasure in more autonomously. Having the Merlin Elite will give Hunter the confidence and independence to enjoy learning again.” The Lynchburg Host Lions Club and the Forest Lions Club joined together to sponsor Hunter for this award.


Hunter also suffers from severe scoliosis, a connective tissue disorder, and mitral valve insufficiency. He is the 2013 face of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in Virginia. The Lipomi Lions Vision Fund was established to assist individuals who are legally blind who want to further their education through scholastics or in the trade industry. Old Dominion Eye Foundation will award scholarships and/or equipment assistance grants to qualified applicants. Joseph Lipomi was a dedicated Lion with many years of service. Joe embraced a special commitment—working for the sight impaired and visually handicapped. While he pursued these endeavors through numerous avenues, the Old Dominion Eye Foundation, Inc. was particularly close to him. This was evidenced in his service as President and life-long member of its Board of Directors. He expressed his belief in ODEF’s work upon his passing through a major endowment to further the eye bank’s goals. The Lipomi Lions Vision Fund is intended to honor the memory of Joe and his wife Mary, express an appreciation for their immeasurable support and broaden the scope of our service.