Kids with impairment hunt for eggs

PARKERSBURG – More than a dozen children attended the Lions Club’s third annual Easter Egg Hunt for Visually Impaired Children on Sunday afternoon.

The hunt began at 2 p.m. with participants ranging from nearsighted to completely blind, said Kevin Clem, a Lions Club member since 2007.

To prevent children with better sight from having an upper-hand in the search, those children who weren’t severely visually impaired were blindfolded, Clem said.

Each child was permitted to take a single assistant onto the field with them to prevent them from getting injured during the search, Clem said.

Volunteers from the Lions Club assisted in the Easter Egg hunt by posing as the egg hiding locations. The volunteers stood in a circle with one large, egg-shaped beeping device and a basket full of traditional, candy-filled eggs, Clem said.

Each volunteer was assigned a number 1, 2 or 3. As the game progressed, Clem announced a change in beepers and held up his hand to signal which number group should turn their beeping egg on next.

Children made their way from station to station using only their ears with their assistants preventing the children from walking into each other.

Gabriel Stull, 11, participated with his sister, Alora Stull, 12, as his guide. Gabriel Stull’s vision is limited to seeing shadows and lights, said his grandmother, Kathy Taylor.

Gabriel Stull lives as normal of a life as he can, Taylor said. He participates in Boy Scouts, Native American dance troops, plays piano and trumpet and enjoys riding his bike and playing baseball, she said.

“He is just too stubborn to allow himself to be held back by the inability to see,” Taylor said.

Gabriel Stull said his sister Alora helps him play baseball and perform in his dance group, he said.

“This is almost the most fun I’ve had in my life,” Gabriel Stull said.

The Parkersburg Lions Club got the idea for the Easter Egg hunt from the Clarksburg club, Clem said. The celebration gets bigger every year, he said.

The opportunity the Lions Club gives the children is rarely received elsewhere, Clem said.

“Many rarely consider the kids who don’t have the opportunity to participate in regular hunts,” Clem said. “The blindfolds even give those kids who can see the opportunity to learn what it would be like to be differently-sighted,” he said.

Emily Emrick, 16, describes herself as completely blind. This was her second year participating in the hunt for visually impaired children.

“I had lots of fun, and found many of the eggs,” Emrick said. “For a time, I was even away from my mom. Now that was scary.”

The hunt lasted 30 minutes before all of the eggs were claimed from the baskets, Clem said. Prizes filled with candy were given to those who assisted the children to reward them for their efforts in making a fun, safe environment for the Easter Egg hunt, Clem said.