April 26 was a sad, but special day for Clarice and Al Bloomenthal. It would have been their daughter’s 48th birthday.
Forty years ago, their world was turned upside down when a reckless driver stole the life of their eight-year-old girl, Risa.
In the weeks that followed, the Bloomenthal family received many flowers and cards from those offering their condolences. But one card stood out: a dear friend had made a donation to Operation Eyesight in Risa’s name.
“It touched me in a special place and I’ve never forgotten it,” says Clarice.
Clarice and Al, who live on Pender Island, BC, have supported Operation Eyesight ever since, making donations for cataract surgeries in lieu of sending gifts when they’ve had the opportunity.
Through their involvement with Operation Eyesight, they’ve learned more about avoidable blindness.
“What blew me away was that operations were being done on children,” explains Clarice. “I didn’t realize disease and malnutrition caused children to require eye surgery, too.”
A few years ago, Clarice’s doctor informed her she needed cataract surgery. “There was no question about whether or not I would have the operation,” she says. “I was fortunate that I could have my sight restored. But for many people, a lack of surgery means they’re blind.”
The Bloomenthals are glad they’re able to help restore other people’s sight, too.
“Anytime we make a donation, someone else can see,” says Clarice. “That’s very special to us.”
Two days after what would have been Risa’s 48th birthday, they received a card from Operation Eyesight, thanking them for their recent donation. Enclosed was a note about an eight-year-old girl whose sight had been restored, thanks to their support. The unexpected card brought a flood of emotions.
“Operation Eyesight didn’t know that it was Risa’s birthday,” Clarice explains. “But it’s interesting how these serendipitous things happen.”
Risa was particularly on Clarice’s mind that week; the Bloomenthals had just made a trip to the annual Tulip Festival in La Conner, Washington in honour of Risa’s birthday. “The whole time I was thinking about how much she would have liked it,” remembers Clarice.
Each year, on Risa’s birthday, Clarice writes a poem for her. “It’s so special for those who still remember,” she says. “It was a tough time, but it was a long time ago.”
Despite suffering a tragic loss themselves, the Bloomenthals are able to see the goodness in life and help others do the same.
“I hope our story inspire others, whether they’ve had a loss or not,” says Clarice. “I hope they can look for the good in the sad, and be as generous as they can be to help someone else.”
Thank you for sharing your heartwarming story with us, Clarice. And thank you for your support over the last 40 years!
If you would like to make a tribute gift in honour of Risa or another loved one, please visit our website.