Opening a New World at Special Olympics Opening Eyes

Lawrence Mwangi playing keeper and guarding the goalie's net.

Lawrence Mwangi is a standout player for Special Olympics Kenya’s Floor Hockey team. His speed and skill helped the team win game after game, eventually climbing to the top of their division. Lawrence is so quick, he was named the team’s goalkeeper—an especially high-pressure position as Kenya trained hard for World Games competition. Yet no one knew the physical challenge the young teen was facing just to play.

As it turned out, Lawrence had been struggling to see the puck: to track it, catch it—and also avoid being hit. His family, coaches and teammates had no idea his vision was obscured by a cataract in one eye. And neither did Lawrence.

Lawrence Mwangi dressed in his goalies uniform and smiling for the photo.
Lawrence's vision problem was diagnosed and treated thanks to Special Olympics Health programming. A skilled athlete before, his game has improved—and so has his life.

No one knew what a huge moment it would be when Kenya's coach took his players to a free Special Olympics Healthy Athletes screening. There, the team was examined by health volunteers specially trained to work with people with intellectual disabilities. At the Special Olympics Lions Clubs International Special Olympics Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes (vision/eye health) screening, volunteers found a serious problem with Lawrence's vision: an undiagnosed cataract.

It was unusual and unexpected to find a cataract in a teenager. But thanks to the screening, Special Olympics partner Lions Clubs were able to help Lawrence get the necessary treatment. He was admitted to a local hospital and recovered well after successful surgery at the Lions SightFirst Eye Hospital in Nairobi.

It's all part of the decades-long partnership between Special Olympics and Lions Clubs International. As for Lawrence, his game has improved his game … and so has his life.

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