Inaugural Maine VisionWalk Aims to Raise $50K for Cutting-Edge Blindness Research | Events

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Inaugural Maine VisionWalk Aims to Raise $50K for Cutting-Edge Blindness Research
Inaugural Maine VisionWalk Aims to Raise $50K for Cutting-Edge Blindness Research

Portland, ME – The Foundation Fighting Blindness (www.FightBlindness.org) will host its inaugural Maine 5K VisionWalk on Saturday, June 18, 2011, at Payson Park on Baxter Boulevard in Portland, ME. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the Walk will start at 10 a.m. The event will raise money for research that will lead to preventions, treatments and cures for retinal degenerative diseases, including retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, Usher syndrome, Stargardt disease, and numerous others. These sight-stealing diseases affect more than 10 million Americans of all races and ethnic groups, young and old.

“It’s devastating to watch a loved one lose vision and independence to a retinal disease,” says VisionWalk Co-Chair Kristine Hedtler, of Portland. “I’m hopeful for a brighter future because the Foundation Fighting Blindness is funding many avenues of promising research, including breakthrough gene therapy clinical trials that have restored some vision in children and young adults who were blind from a rare condition. VisionWalk is an important event that will move us one step closer to a cure.”

Hedtler’s 24-year-old son Dylan is affected with Usher syndrome, an inherited condition that causes hearing impairment and a progressive loss of vision from retinitis pigmentosa. Family and friends are coming together on Hedtler’s “The Visionaries” VisionWalk team, hoping to raise $3K toward a brighter future for Dylan and millions of others.

Hundreds of community members are expected to participate in the VisionWalk, which Dave Jackson will co-chair with Hedtler. Senator Susan Collins will serve as an honorary co-chair. People are invited to form teams or walk independently at the free, family-friendly event, which will also feature children’s activities like a bounce house and face painting, music, refreshments, and more. Since the Foundation Fighting Blindness’ VisionWalk program started in 2006, more than 60,000 walkers have participated across the country to raise over $17 million for blindness research. To support or participate in the Maine VisionWalk, visit www.VisionWalk.org, or contact Event Manager Sara Hammel at 410-423-0624 or SHammel@FightBlindness.org.

About Foundation Fighting Blindness

The Foundation Fighting Blindness is a national nonprofit driving blindness research that will lead to preventions, treatments and cures for retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, Usher syndrome and the entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases that affect 10 million Americans. In its 40-year history, the Foundation has raised more than $425 million as the leading non-governmental funder of retinal research. With a network of 50 chapters, the Foundation also provides free disease information and low vision resources to affected individuals and their families. Most recently, a breakthrough Foundation-funded study using gene therapy restored significant vision in children and young adults who were previously blind, paving the way for using this method to treat a wide variety of retinal degenerative diseases, and proving a cure is in sight.

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