Pop-up tour gives free eye exams to communities in need

American Hero

(NewsNation) — Diani Yelverton was sweeping the stairs in her home when a vision filled her head in 2018. She didn’t know what it meant at the time and seemingly brushed it off. But it kept popping up in her head: 20/20 vision.

“It was something that kept nagging at me,” Yelverton said.

And there was. A vision that started out as a nagging idea in 2018 turned into a successful campaign that launched in August 2020 that provided over 100 families on the south side of Chicago with free eye health care.

“I did more research on vision health care, and I realized that there were huge disparities between Black and brown communities. And so the more I researched, the more I felt empowered to, you know, look into it a little more and really see if this was a campaign that could be successful,” Yelverton said.

She explained that in 2018, she started crowdfunding and got to work.

But the journey to success was not an easy one. Yelverton explained that her two-year journey to success had many challenging obstacles. It was rejection after rejection, but she knew deep down that this was something she was being called to do.

“There were a lot [of obstacles],” she said. “One: just feeling like it was something that I could do — it sounded really big. I’ll say that, like, it did not seem like it was something that was obtainable.”

Although Yelverton had experience planning events, having to secure a vehicle, optometrists, sponsors and aligning schedules for a mobile tour seemed almost impossible.

“It just seemed much bigger than what I felt I could achieve. And I had to get out of my own way, and get out of my own head,” she said.

As a wife and mother of two, she said she couldn’t have done it without the support of her family.

“I don’t know if I balance it all that well, but I extend a lot of grace to myself, I have an amazing village of just family and friends who step in whenever I need them to. And I try and make my kids a part of the process,” she said.

She wanted her kids to see what it was like to go after our dreams and the challenges it took to achieve them.

“I want them to see what it really looks like to go after your dreams and be an entrepreneur and dream big and really show that authentic side — like it’s not glamorous all the time,” she said.

Her 2020 Perfect Vision Campaign was faced with an obstacle even Yelverton could not control: COVID-19.

“Once COVID hit, I was definitely like, ‘Oh, yeah, no, we’re not doing this anymore.’ So I stopped working on it. I just said, ‘yeah, it’s just not going to happen.'”

But she knew there was something more going on than just an idea.

With the launch in the summer of 2020, Yelverton knew it was a testament to what she was supposed to do. She reevaluated her plans and worked through the pandemic challenges with her team of sponsors. There was even a sponsor that pulled out two weeks prior to the campaign’s launch due to the virus.

“I had to reevaluate. But really just focus on what is the ultimate goal. And the pathway to that goal may look different, but the goal is always the same,” she explained. “And that’s to bring vision health care to communities in need. It’s to really focus on the issue of affordability and accessibility.”

She said she had to remind herself that it wasn’t about her, that it was about all those people her work would be helping.

The 2020 Perfect Vision Campaign launch went as smooth as it could have, Yelverton said. She couldn’t believe how successful it was.

But her work isn’t done yet.

Yelverton said she’s been very transparent with her goals and work moving forward. A lack of funding and the need for a new vehicle delayed their second campaign tour until this year.

“Our goal right now is to secure our own vehicle. So, we are in talks with another organization in Chicago. They are in the process of gifting us one of their decommissioned vehicles. And so that is a huge blessing,” she explained.

Yelverton said she and her team are excited to hit the road at the end of September for the second 2020 Perfect Vision Campaign Tour. Her team with be making stops in Englewood, Lawndale, Near West Side and Lansing, Illinois.

Eventually, Yelverton hopes to connect with the Chicago Public School System so that they can provide services to more kids.

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