Imagine as a kid not being able to see very well - which meant not being able to pay attention in class, do well in school or perform well in sports - and not being able to do anything about seeing better because you couldn’t afford it.
Then imagine the coolest guy in the NFL making it possible for you to have a pair of glasses.
And not only does he personally fit you with those glasses, he single-handedly makes wearing glasses cool so your new look is met with praise rather than scorn.
“That’s dope,” says Von Miller, chuckling at the idea that he’s making glasses cool.
But he is, and he’s proud of that - especially when he witnesses kids experiencing a life-changing moment because they can see.
“It’s pretty cool. It kind a feels like getting a sack,” the edge rusher says, noting the “good feelings” he gets through his efforts with Von’s Vision. “It’s a true blessing.”
And now Von’s Vision - which has been helping low-income Denver-area children get necessary eye care since 2013 - is getting a boost from Microsoft Surface through its Create Change program to work with philanthropic efforts of five NFL athletes.
Miller partnered with Create Change to empower kids who have impaired vision with even more tools that can deeply enhance their learning and reading experience - whether it’s the ability to adjust color backgrounds for better visibility or using the “read aloud” option or even magnifying sections of the screen to read more easily.
Microsoft is also working with Von’s Vision specifically to implement its Surface technology for housing each child’s eye care records and provide real-time access to those records, making them more efficient across the board.
“We will be a lot more efficient with kids records with Microsoft Surface,” said Von’s Vision’s Jeff Lees.
Ever since Miller’s early - and somewhat emotionally painful - days of playing football with glasses, he has wanted to make sure other kids didn’t have the same experience.
In a Player’s Tribune essay last year about his early days playing football with ‘specs,’ Miller noted he wasn’t always considered so cool.
Yo, listen: This was before the days of the custom visor. I had a $20 helmet. I had to wear my glasses to play. But they kept falling off in the heat of battle. You remember Rec Specs? Horace Grant. Rec Specs. I would strap them over the top of my helmet to keep my glasses in place, motocross style.
...Let me paint a picture for the people at home. Texas. September. Eight teams playing back-to-back-to-back-to-back on one field. Starting at 8 a.m., until it got dark. People would literally be tailgating at the field all day.
...This an alpha, macho Texas football vibe. And I’m rolling up with my mom in the Suburban, getting dressed out of the back of the trunk. Skinny little nerd with the Rec Specs strapped over his helmet.
...I got it bad. I got called every name you can think of.
But the thing about football is, it’s not the playground. If you call me four-eyes on the playground, you can laugh in my face and I can’t touch you without getting detention. On a Texas football field, I could run your ass over.
Now he’s making sure kids can see - and they will be cool doing it.
“This is what I’m supposed to be doing,” Miller says in the Create Change video just launched today. “This is my identity. This is my fingerprint. To have this vision and be able to execute it, is a blessing. When you give kids an equal playing field, anything can happen.”
In Miller’s words, that’s dope.