Smile Politely

Help send a Champaign Family to the Rose Parade

When parents Sheila and Terry Walters, from Champaign, IL, received news that their son, Caleb, had passed away in a motorcycle accident, their world turned upside down.  Not only was the couple suddently faced with the reality of losing their son, but they also needed to make a decision about Caleb becoming an eye, organ and tissue donor.

Sheila and Terry courageously chose to pursue donation, and Caleb gave the amazing gift of sight to two people.  With help from the Illinois Eye-Bank, Caleb’s corneas provided sight-restoring transplants to individuals suffering from corneal blindness.

One of those people was Cyndy Loula. Today, Cyndy sees because of Caleb’s generosity. After struggling for years with keratoconus, a disease effecting the shape of the cornea, and losing both her sight and independence, Cyndy’s restored vision gave her a new lease on life.

After several years of writing letters back and forth, the Walters and Cyndy finally met and became instant friends. Now, the three of them act as passionate ambassadors for the Illinois Eye-Bank, sharing their personal accounts of restored hope through donation and the gift of sight.

As a way of thanking Cyndy and the Walters for their continued work and support, the Illinois Eye-Bank wants to send them to California to participate in the Donate Life Float during the Rose Parade. Donate Life America annually sponsors this float to honor donors, donor families, recipients and the gifts of sight, life and mobility. Cyndy, Sheila and Terry have a very powerful story to share, and positioning them on the national Rose Parade platform will allow them to provide hope to others facing similar situations.

The Illinois Eye-Bank is a nonprofit organizaiton which heavily relies on the generosity of financial contributors to carry out its mission. The charity cannot send Cyndy, Sheila and Terry to California alone, so YOUR help is needed to get them there.

Terry (left) and Sheila Walters, donor parents.

To support this cause, please make a financial donation online to the Celebrating the Gift of Sight campaign. Any contribution makes a significant difference. If you can’t help finanancially, please simply share the campaign link on your social media sites, and encourage your friends, family and coworkers to provide their support as well.

The Illinois Eye-Bank is proud to be part of the Champaign-Urbana community. In fact, in 2013 alone the Illinois Eye-Bank facilitated corneal transplants for 8 people from Champaign-Urbana. Additionally, 50 residents became cornea donors, providing the gift of sight to others in need.  

With your assistance, the Eye-Bank can continue serving your community, and can send the Walters and Cyndy to the Rose Parade to show the country the great work being done in your own backyard.

For more information on the Illinois Eye-Bank, visit the organization online at, and like them on Facebook at For questions, please contact Brittany Wright, Community Relations Liaison, at, or at (312)469-5516.

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