Safety Harbor Elementary students show off their brand new books from Bess the Book Bus at the Transitions Golf Championship.

A good golfer is happy with a drive that goes beteween 300 and 400 yards. But from behind the 18th hole at Innisbrook, Bess the Book Bus is hoping to make it all the way across the country.

Since 2009, the Transitions Golf Championship has served as the kick off event for Bess’s nationwide mobile literacy outreach. The 2012 Transitions/VSP Success is in Sight Tour starts the same way.

It is a busy day as 900 students arrive from six schools for Youth Days at the Transitions Championship. They traveled from as far as Polk County. Rushes come in waves as students roam the course and experience the various events including activites with Radio Disney and golf talk with the pros.

Walid, a second grader from Lynch Elementary, goes wide eyed as he steps on board Bess the Book Bus. “There are so many books to choose,” he says while sifting through the shelves. He passes through Magic Tree House titles and an illustrated copy of The Hobbit. Then he looks at Rick Riordin’s The Last Olympian and Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars. Finally, he settles on a G.I. Joe coloring and activity book and hops out the back of the bus. Another student steps on to pick a brand new book to take home.

Free comprehensive eye exams took place inside the Think About Your Eyes pavilion, where more than 500 students were screened. One in four children suffer from undetected vision challenges. These challenges can lead to difficulty learning in the classroom and cause a cascading effect on a child’s development. Transitions and VSP provided Sight for Students gift certificates so that students could receive comprehensive eye exams and glasses with Transitions Lenses. In 2011, Transitions and VSP donated more than 5,000 gift certificates to students across the country.

Students were invited to Youth Days at the Transitions Golf Championship for completing the My Eye Promise and a response to a simple question. Students were asked what they would miss without healthy vision. Their answers ranged from sunrises to sunsets, and the faces of their friends and families. But as students exited the book bus with their heads down, nearly tripping on their own two feet, it was obvious they would miss the joys of a good book.

Youth Days continues on March 14. The 2012 Transitions VSP Success is in Sight Tour starts in April with stops in Chicago, Atlanta and Detroit. To bring Bess the Book Bus to your school or community program, e-mail a request to Jennifer Frances at Follow Bess on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for updates on the tour. And as always, safe travels through the pages.