MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- The Foundation Fighting Blindness will host its 5th Annual Twin Cities VisionWalk on Sunday, Sept. 25, at the Lake Harriet Bandshell. The 5K walkathon aims to raise $175,000 for research that will lead to preventions, treatments and cures for retinal degenerative diseases, including retinitis pigmentosa (RP), macular degeneration, Usher syndrome, Stargardt disease, and numerous others. These sight-stealing diseases affect more than 10 million Americans of all races and ethnicities, young and old.
"It's devastating to watch my son Louie struggle with vision loss due to Stargardt disease," says Greg McGee, of St. Paul. "But, 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 vision in children and young adults who were previously blind. VisionWalk is an opportunity for us to come together in support of research and move one step closer to a cure."
Youth Chair Louie McGee, 11, was diagnosed at age 5 with Stargardt disease, a juvenile form of macular degeneration that progressively robs his central vision. The inherited condition prevents him from enjoying activities like baseball or tennis, but McGee doesn't allow his vision loss to slow him down. He took second and third places in the state swimming tournament, and is even working on a book about a boy with visual impairment to share his experiences about what he sees and feels. Determined to drive research, the McGee family produced a YouTube video about Louie's story and is encouraging the community to donate to their VisionWalk "Team Louie" through the "Make a Splash" campaign with Mall of America®. All coins tossed in the Nordstrom Fountain during the month of August will benefit blindness research.
More than 1,000 walkers are expected at the free, family-friendly VisionWalk, which also includes children's activities, a bounce house, jugglers, face painting, balloon twisting, refreshments, a disc jockey, and a post-walk party. Other event leaders include Chair Mark Valenziano and Honorary Chair Dr. Abdhish Bhavsar. Since the VisionWalk program started in 2006, more than 60,000 walkers have participated in events across the country to raise more than $17 million for blindness research.
For more information about this event, visit www.FightBlindness.org/TwinCitiesVisionWalk.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)