Ft. Wayne Chapter Welcome Letter

rick_dahlstromDear Friends,

People look at me and see a 6'-0" tall, 225 pound guy in the prime of life with a successful career as an architect. Most would think, "What can that guy be worried or afraid about?"

I can tell you ... it's blindness.

I've been living with that threat for over 35 years. The disease has been slow and lately it is something that I have had to admit to my friends and coworkers. I am losing my sight and I need their help. In a way my experience is kind of like having Alzheimer's. Every day I lose a little bit more of my sight, but in this case I am fully aware of what is happening. Sometimes I notice, but at the end of the day I know that I have lost. I don't want my disease to define who I am, but there are days when the stress and desperation make me so uptight! Lately, through education and becoming aware of the resources around me, some of that tension has eased. What has changed?

I would like to invite you to be a part of an outstanding organization. Whether you are affected with a retinal condition or you know someone who has one there is a resource for education and research information. If you have concerns about blindness and you are looking for answers, treatments and cures there is a group that can help. We are the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) and we have a local Chapter right here in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

I am now into my third year as the Fort Wayne Chapter President, This year I will be participating in my 6th VisionWalk fundraising event. Why do I volunteer my time, money and efforts to the Foundation Fighting Blindness? Let me tell you.

The Foundation Fighting Blindness gives me the chance to help find a cure for the disease that affects my family and myself. Through the FFB’s education, I have become familiar with my disease and the efforts required to cure it. Through the Chapter I have become acquainted with the local individuals, professionals and resources who are pursuing those same goals to find a cure. Through the VisionWalk I can help expand the FFB’s research and clinical trials by raising monies for grants to promising clinicians and researchers who will find the cures for blindness.

Recently, I have been informed that the Foundation is funding research by Dr. Jean Bennett. Some may recall that she lead the clinical study to restore sight for a dozen people who were affected with Leber's Congenital Amaurosis (LCA). Her team at Penn State is working on a gene therapy treatment that may be available in as few as five years for my family's eye disease called Choroideremia. The next ten years of retinal research will be very exciting. The momentum will build. Research will lead to trials. Trials will lead to a cure. Cures will expand for all retinal diseases. This is why I am involved in the FFB.

We are looking for new chapter members and volunteers. We wish to expand our chapter leadership members. We want to make the VisionWalk larger. We want to bring in more donations to support research. We want to treat and cure all types of blindness. There is defiantly a place for you, your family and fiends within the FFB. Stop by a chapter meeting sometime and be sure to join the VisionWalk!!

With your support, a cure is in sight!

Rick Dahlstrom, President
Fort Wayne Chapter of the Foundation Fighting Blindness