Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Foundation Fighting Blindness

We mentioned recently that Pam was named President of the Denver Chapter of Foundation Fighting Blindness. She recently attended the annual conference for the organization in Kansas City. Read her blog for details about FFB and her experiences at the conference.

As you know, I have the honor of being President of the Colorado Chapter of the Foundation Fighting Blindness. The Chapter is made up of a combination of professionals, among them, Dr Alan Kimura, a Retinal Specialist, Steve Starzec, local banker and others with vision loss. Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) is a national non-profit whose urgent mission is to drive the research that will provide preventions, treatments, and cures for people affected by retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, Usher syndrome and the entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases. For years my mother complained of vision problems from her stroke and cataract surgery yet no one could give her any help in understanding what was wrong. Nor could they help make her vision more clear. FFB is fighting to find cures and treatments for people just like Mom and the over 9 million Americans who are affected by retinal degenerative diseases.

Luckily for me, my new orientation to FFB included attending the annual Visions Conference, held in Kansas City, Kansas. I was amazed at the energy and the dedication shown by a mostly volunteer group of chapter leaders and members. The conference brought together experts in vision, FFB staff and chapter members to learn information about the latest research findings and trials. Bill Schmidt, CEO of FFB shared the Visions 2012 Plan of Growth along with the highlights from the 2006-2007 results. In 2007, FFB gave over $15 million to fund research. There are two major human clinical trials now going with the assistance of FFB funding.

At the luncheon, I sat with Nancy Kerrigan, Olympic skater, who is now the spokesperson for the Foundation. Nancy’s mother suffered a vision loss after an infection and Nancy knows first hand the struggles experienced with such loss. I told her about my mother’s struggles, too, over the years.

At one session, I met young Jessie, a 14-year old who was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa seven years ago and is now eager to tell her story so that others with that condition can learn. The conference helped her see the need to tell her story. She is developing her leadership capabilities along with meeting others with the same condition under the guidance of FFB. I met Jim Platzer from Fort Wayne Indiana who had to retire 3 years ago due to vision loss from RP. Since that time, he has been leading the charge in his home town
FFB is establishing the National Neurovision Research Institute (NNRI), which will give early stage development assistance for companies and academic investigators with promising new treatment ideas. NNRI will provide funding, advice and referrals to potential sources of funding. All in all, the FFB organization is tireless in its work in finding the cure! I was impressed with the conference, the attendees, and their dedication to educating the public about the existence of FFB and the need for more research.

Among the many fundraising events established by FFB, the Vision Walk is the one I am jumping into. It’s the signature event for the Foundation and has raised over $2M in its first 18 months. There are 30 walks planned for 2007!. The Colorado Chapter has its Vision Walk on September 29 at Hudson Gardens. I created a team, the Be Unlimited Team at Capabilities. I’ve sent out emails inviting everyone to join with me to raise money for research and to exceed the record from last year. Last year, the Denver chapter raised over $115,000 in the Vision Walk. We have the challenge. I know we can meet it.

Please join me, then, at the Vision Walk at Hudson Gardens on September 29th and walk for a great cause, supporting research and cures for Retinal Degenerative Diseases. Colorado has a huge number of persons with Macular Degeneration, Cataracts, and other degenerative diseases. Let’s raise the money together to fund the research to find cures and treatments.

I’m proud to be part of Foundation Fighting Blindness and to learn about new breakthroughs in treatments and cures. I will continue to share what I learn through my involvement with you, our customers and colleagues.

Please do join Pam and support her Vision Walk - you can use her pledge page here.

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