Passionate advocates for the blind and visually impaired as well as cornea transplant surgeons gathered at the 2014 Eye Ball Gala, raising $152,000 to help give the gift of sight. Each year, the Lions Eye Institute for Transplant & Research (LEITR) raises awareness for the more than 285 million blind and visually impaired people throughout the world. At the event, guests enjoyed a “Classic Havana” themed night with gaming, dining and dancing, plus a live and silent auction. Held at T. Pepin’s Hospitality Centre, this year’s event brought LEITR one step closer to unlocking the cure for blindness.
Throughout the night, LEITR showcased the need for ocular advancements as well as the groundbreaking research they are pioneering to help the blind and visually impaired. Several guest speakers shared their stories, including corneal transplant recipients whose sight has been restored thanks to LEITR.
87-year-old Dorothy Bernstein was grateful for how her transplant extended her quality of life. “Without my corneal transplant, I would have never been able to work an additional 17 years at my part-time job at McDonald’s “she said. “Thank you to Lions Eye for making this possible.”
Corneal transplant recipients also shared their gratitude for those organ donors who selflessly gave them the opportunity to see again. “The gift one 47-year-old female donor gave me is something I never take for granted,” said Liz Price. “Without her tissue, so many things in my life would be different.”
In addition, LEITR honored two professionals dedicated to advancing ocular research. Lorna Taylor, president and CEO of Premier Eye Care and a leading expert in national managed eye care, was presented with the Light of Sight Award. This award is presented annually to a person for their philanthropic efforts and volunteerism to help those who are blind and visually impaired. Taylor exceeds all of these criteria and has been an active ambassador supporting LEITR’s mission.
Additionally, each year LEITR recognizes an individual for their exceptional dedication to the field of vision with the Innovation and Research Award. This year’s recipient, Dr. Mark Gorovoy, has been instrumental in elevating the partial cornea transplant process, shortening transplant and recovery time. Dr. Gorovoy is a fellowship-trained, board-certified Ophthalmology sub-specialist who regularly teaches fellow cornea surgeons new techniques in his surgery center.
“This event is our annual platform to demonstrate the impact that blindness and visual impairments have on people of all ages, genders and ethnicities throughout the world,” said Jason Woody, president and CEO of LEITR. “We were honored to have such great LEITR, ocular research and organ donation advocates join us this year. We are incredibly proud and thankful to all of our sponsors and attendees who helped us raise these invaluable contributions.”