Originally from southeast Iowa, Jason McDowell’s pre-doctor days were spent playing baseball—both in high school and in college at Hannibal LaGrange. In college, he met his wife Mary Ellen, and they were married when he was 19. He went on to study Optometry at the University of Missouri in St. Louis, and from there, moved from St. Louis, to Denver, to Springfield, Missouri, and then back to the Hannibal/Quincy area in 1998.
McDowell began practicing as with International Eyecare in 2001, and has been with the company ever since. If you’ve been to their Jacksonville office, you’ve probably been fortunate enough to meet him. He lives in town with his family—now including two sons (Clayton, 17 and Carter, 14)—and is active in many activities throughout the community. I’m not kidding. I don’t know when he sleeps.
When he’s not at work, you’ll find him serving as the Varsity Basketball coach at Westfair where his wife teaches and their sons attend school. Or maybe you’ll see him at a Rotary meeting or Board meeting for the Salvation Army or Pathway. Perhaps it will be at Lincoln Avenue Baptist, where his family is active with their church. But it could also be at a Parent Teacher Foundation meeting at Westfair—because he’s the President there, too.
Any free time he has is spent enjoying time with his family or golfing. But one local event he hopes to become even more involved with is the mobile food pantry, sponsored by local partners and the Central Illinois Foodbank. “I’d love to see that become a more permanent, regular event in town. It helps feed a lot of people and is really needed in our community,” he said.
Recently, McDowell has also been involved with several mission trips during which he’s able to offer eye exams to low-income communities. Past trips have visited Romania and inner-city Chicago and are something he hopes to continue once his sons are through college. “I love helping people see better,” he explained. “I do low-vision exams, and I get to help people who can’t even see to read be able to do that through things like video magnifiers.”
However, McDowell has had his own major health issues to overcome in recent years. An autoimmune disease that attacked his lung tissue meant 20 rounds of chemotherapy, six months out of work, and three and a half years of steroid treatments for his lungs. Breathing was difficult, and he had to give up singing with his church choir and the sports activities he loved.
Today, he’s come a long way and is much stronger. He even competes in Tough Mudder obstacle races and plays softball on a regular basis. “I’m much better at hitting home runs now—it must have been the steroids,” he joked.
Keep an eye out for this interesting person; with everything he’s involved in, you’re sure to meet him somewhere in town. His down-to-earth personality and giving spirit make him a valuable part of our community who, despite his own challenges, has never stopped caring for others—both inside his office and throughout the area.