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VisionWalk Gears Up for 10th Anniversary Celebration To Help End Blindness

Hundreds touched by vision loss gathered to fight blindness at the 9th
Annual Fort Wayne VisionWalk on Saturday, June 13, at Headwaters Park – Germanfest Grounds, and
raised over $56,000 to support promising gene therapy, stem cell, and pharmaceutical-based research
that could save and even restore sight. Now in its 10th year as a national signature event for the
Foundation Fighting Blindness, the VisionWalk program has raised more than $36 million for blindness
research and tens of thousands have participated in VisionWalks across the country. Blinding retinal
diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration and Usher syndrome affect more than 10
million Americans, but the Foundation Fighting Blindness is funding cutting-edge studies toward
preventions, treatments and cures.

“As my vision diminishes, my resolve to support the Foundation Fighting Blindness has become a
goal in my life,” says Fort Wayne Chapter President and Team Captain of Designed to
Succeed, Rick Dahlstrom of Fort Wayne. “The research that the Foundation and the Fort
Wayne Chapter support will eventually lead millions of people to the cure for blindness.
Everyone can help make a difference.” Dahlstrom has been living under the diagnosis of
impending blindness for the last 40 years with a disease called choroideremia, an inherited retinal
disease which causes his vision to narrow until completely blind. But that did not stop him from
becoming a practicing architect for the last 25 years working on some of Fort Wayne’s best projects, like
raising the roof on the Memorial Coliseum and the Allen County Library Main Branch renovation. He lost
his night vision years ago and does not know how he will function if he loses his sight completely. “I can
no longer compensate for or dismiss my blind spots,” says Dahlstrom. “You can imagine what those facts
mean to the life of an architect.”

Nearly 400 walkers, many of whom are affected by retinal disease, walked the 2.8 mile course at the free
VisionWalk, which also included children’s activities, refreshments and entertainment. Event leaders
include Walk Chair Brenda Niccum; Family Team Chair Anne Palmer; Chapter President Rick Dahlstrom,
Medical Chair Kendra N. Cunegin, OD, Cataract & Laser Institute; Medical Chair Scott C. Richards, MD,
The Retinal Institute; and Medical Chair Gohar Salam, MD, Retina Institute of Indiana. Gina Glaros from
WANE-TV served as Master of Ceremonies. Sponsors include Cataract & Laser Institute and The Retinal