ELBURN – After hearing “N-42” called out during a bingo session Sunday at the Elburn Lions Club, Sheila Vleck pressed her fingers down a row on her special plastic Braille game card. When she reached the final number on the row, she recognized it as 42 and placed a bingo chip on top.
Bingo in Elburn was one of the final stops of a weekend-long festival called Ski for Sight, in which participants enjoyed a party in Sycamore on Friday night, outdoor activities in Shabbona on Saturday, a banquet and dancing in DeKalb on Saturday night, and then a choice of bowling in Sycamore or bingo in Elburn on Sunday. Elburn then hosted a lunch to close the event.
It was the 32nd year the event had taken place. In Elburn, Chris Halsey, the first vice district governor for Elburn’s region, called out numbers for game after game as participants played on their special cards, with help from the young members of the Elburn Leo and Junior Leo clubs. Vleck sat at a table near the back, helped by Junior Leo member Aubrey Broz, who did everything from serving drinks to pointing out numbers to taking out Vleck’s service dog, Rhea, for a walk when it was needed.
Vleck said she enjoyed playing bingo at the event each year – something she has done for 15 years – but she said she could not enjoy playing bingo on a regular basis.
“I couldn’t do this,” she said, smiling. “I couldn’t take the pressure. I do this for fun.”
Some at the event showed emotion when they won. Andre Williams, who won the first game, was clapping and celebrating with Elburn Leo Club member Zach Strayve. Others enthusiastically shouted out “bingo” when they won, and then collected a small cash prize.
Marty Hutchings sat at Vleck’s table. He said he participated in the cross country skiing, and that some went hiking Saturday as well. He said it was a good time, and that he had been coming to the event since 1995. Carolynn Werline, from the DeKalb Lions Evening Club, said she has heard that Ski for Sight is the highlight of the year for many participants.
Werline said it was a good weekend for the event, since there was plenty of snow.
“This is good weather,” she said. “There are weekends when we should have called it ‘Hike for Sight.’ ”
Cheryl Lee, of the Elburn Lions Club, said she has been helping to run the Elburn stage of Ski for Sight for about nine years. She praised the involvement of the younger members, saying it was “a good thing for them” to help out.
Werline said people come from regions such as Chicago and Rockford, helping the Lions Club fulfill its mission to helping visually impaired individuals. She said that devotion comes from a 1925 speech, available at www.lionsclubs.org, in which Helen Keller appealed to the Lions for help.
“Are you going to say no to Helen Keller?” Werline said.