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Maryland Governor's Running Mate Raises Awareness about Stargardt Disease

Kristen Cox, Secretary of Maryland's Department of Disabilities and legally blind from Stargardt disease, has been selected by Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich as his running mate in his 2006 reelection bid.

A strong advocate for people with disabilities, Cox worked for the National Federation of the Blind from 1998-2001, defending the rights of blind people through legislative work. In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Cox to serve as a principal advisor to the Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Administration in the U.S. Department of Education. In July 2004, Cox began her current leadership role in Maryland government.

Cox began losing her sight at the age of 11, and experienced substantial vision loss during college. She graduated from Brigham Young University in 1995. Cox is married, has two children, and lives in Towson, Maryland.

Stargardt disease is an inherited form of macular degeneration that affects approximately 20,000 Americans. It's the same condition that affects L.A. Times reporter, Peter Wallsten, who recently received national media attention after President Bush commented on the sunglasses he wore on a cloudy day. The sunglasses provide Wallsten comfort and protection from light damage.

"Public figures such as Cox and Wallsten are helping raise much-needed awareness about vision-robbing retinal diseases," says Bill Schmidt, Chief Executive Officer, Foundation Fighting Blindness. "There's a tremendous need for treatments and cures for these conditions which collectively affect millions of Americans."

The Foundation Fighting Blindness funds research to provide preventions, treatments, and cures for people affected by Stargardt disease, retinitis pigmentosa, age-related macular degeneration, Usher syndrome, and the entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases. More than nine million Americans are affected by retinal degenerative diseases.

For more information about Stargardt (or Stargardt's) disease, visit


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