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Baltimore Fights Blindness, Honors Top Philanthropists

More than 300 guests, including several local dignitaries, professional athletes and community leaders, gathered on September 29 at M&T Bank Stadium to support the Foundation Fighting Blindness and honor the extraordinary philanthropy of Art and Pat Modell and Bruce and Bonnie Sawyer. The Third Baltimore Visionary Awards Dinner raised more than $300,000 to bolster the Foundation’s urgent mission to find cures for retinal degenerative diseases, which affect more than 10 million Americans.

Tom Matte, former Pro Bowl running back for the Baltimore Colts, served as the evening’s emcee, sharing entertaining and humorous football stories, and informing guests about the critical leadership role the Foundation and Baltimore play in the fight against blindness.

Gordon Gund, co-founder and chairman of the Foundation, spoke to guests about his experience of going blind in the early 1970s from retinitis pigmentosa, and how he and other co-founders established the Foundation in Baltimore to find treatments and cures for retinal diseases for which so very little was known. Gordon noted that today, thanks to the Foundation, gene therapy clinical trials are now underway that are restoring vision in people who were virtually blind.

The dinner’s success was attributable to a passionate dinner committee, which worked tirelessly to promote the Foundation throughout Baltimore and Maryland. Mort Goldberg, M.D., chairman of the Foundation’s clinical trial subsidiary and former director of the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine, served as committee chair, and recognized the invaluable efforts of Ronald R. Peterson, president of Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, in his role as the dinner’s honorary chair.

Bruce Sawyer is a director on the Foundation’s board, and he and Bonnie have strongly supported a number of Foundation events during the last decade. Bruce is a retired principal owner of Barton-Cotton, a national publisher and distributor of affinity greeting cards used by nonprofits for fundraising. He also served as board chairman of Tissue Banks International, a corneal tissue bank.

Art Modell is former owner of the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens and NFL Champion Cleveland Browns. He and Pat generously support numerous local and national charities including: Johns Hopkins Heart Institute, The Seed School of Maryland, the Kennedy Krieger Institute, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Photos from the Baltimore Visionary Awards Dinner

Debbie & Matt Stover celebrate with the
Blackman Family, members of the
Dinner Committee
Tom Matte, Former Baltimore Colt led the
Dinner as emcee
Bruce & Bonnie Sawyer,
Visionary Award Recipients with their family
(Betsy & Bill Bradley, Nancy & Otto Sheridan,
and David Sawyer)
Dr. Mort Goldberg, Dinner Chair presents
Art & Pat Modell with the Visionary Award

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