Lions Club egg hunt caters to visually impaired

PARKERSBURG – Near-freezing temperatures and snow did not keep children from the second annual Easter Egg Hunt held by the Parkersburg Lions Club on Sunday for visually impaired children.

“I had a great time and so much fun being part of an Easter egg hunt,” exclaimed Emily Emrich, 15, of Mineral Wells. “I hate being left out of things and this time I wasn’t left out, it was for me.”

Emrich has been blind since birth and with the help of her mother, Annette Emrich, was able to hunt her own Easter egg candy in the City Park horseshoe pitch Sunday afternoon in Parkersburg.

“I didn’t realize exactly what they were doing, but I am so glad the Lions did this because Emily was able to feel like every other kid,” Annette Emrich said.

Emily Emrich was one of about half a dozen children, both sight-impaired and sighted, who participated in the club’s spring event. Children who do not have visual impairment participated by placing blindfolds over their eyes.

“A lot of us take for granted the fun an Easter egg hunt is and there is a whole group of people who have never gotten to Easter egg hunt and we want to give them that chance,” said Kevin Clem, event organizer for the Parkersburg Lions Club.

The local Lions got the idea for the hunt last year from the Beckley Lions Club, members said.

In order to help the children with sight issues with the egg hunt, Lions members stood around the horseshoe pitch in the park and set up stations. Each station had a Lion holding the beeping “egg” as well as candy-filled plastic eggs for the children.

Many of the children had a partner to help direct them as they followed the sound of the beeps and when they reached the origin, were handed the candy eggs.

“Lions is working to eradicate blindness, but, unfortunately, we aren’t always able to,” Clem said. “This Easter egg hunt is one of the ways we are finding to help kids still be kids and have a good time.”

Parkersburg resident Lori Hanna brought her daughters Chey Willis, 5, and Lexi Willis, 8, to the hunt without knowing the blind nature of the event.

“I just saw this was an Easter egg hunt and am always looking for something for them to do,” Hanna said. “I think blindfolding them and having them do one activity without their eyes will give them a better understanding of how the blind live, which I think is a good thing for them.”

Lexi Willis said not being able to see was very weird.

“I didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing,” she said. “It was really hard to hear the beeping because everything sounded louder when I couldn’t see.”

At the end of the hunt, Clem announced the Parkersburg Lions Club will hold the hunt again next year.

“We will definitely do this next year and it will not snow,” he stated. “I promise that it will not snow.”