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What comes to mind when you hear the word, “tandem?” Perhaps you envision a “bicycle built for two”! Whether or not you have ever ridden a tandem bicycle, you can appreciate the fact that both riders must work together in order to insure an enjoyable ride.

Bob and Jackie Anderson of Wheaton are the Spectrios Institute for Low Vision Volunteers of the Year. The Andersons own a tandem bike and enjoy riding together in their free time. They find a tandem bike to be a great bike riding option in light of Jackie’s low vision condition. The Andersons are quick to acknowledge that riding a tandem was not easy at first. It required learning how to peddle in sync. Perhaps even more challenging, Jackie had to learn how to trust Bob as the navigator.

The Andersons tandem bike riding is a powerful metaphor for the way in which they cope with Jackie’s low vision condition together. They truly seek to function as a team, realizing that they both have a pivotal role to play. Low vision impacts not only the person having an eye condition, but their friends and family as well. The Andersons model the team approach that is so vital in the rehabilitation process promoted by the Spectrios Institute for Low Vision.

Jackie not only volunteers her time, she volunteers her heart. Many Spectrios patients know Jackie as the friendly voice who calls to remind them of upcoming appointments. A long time Spectrios patient herself, Jackie has a great deal of empathy for others engaged in the rehabilitation process. She is gifted in helping people to feel at ease, and is quick to offer a word of encouragement to those who are coming to the Deicke House for the first time. Jackie has a genuine care for each person that she speaks to on the phone and she is helpful in answering frequently asked questions.

Those who have attended our monthly support and learning group may remember Bob as the first person to welcome them to the meeting. He has taken on this role out of the kindness of his heart. His sensitivity to the needs of others is so much appreciated by regular group attendees. Whether it is closing the blinds to prevent sun glare or helping someone find a seat, Bob is always there to lend a helpful hand. Bob seeks to help everyone feel included.

The Andersons are strong peer leaders in our support and learning group. They are gifted in helping other group members express their thoughts and feelings regarding vision loss. Bob and Jackie’s willingness to share their own experiences has helped to normalize the challenges that are synonymous in adjusting to a low vision situation. We so much appreciate Bob and Jackie’s willingness to give of themselves to help others who are facing similar circumstances.

On behalf of the entire Spectrios staff, our patients and their loved ones, thank you Bob and Jackie! We are privileged to honor you as the 2008 Volunteers of the Year.