Foundation to Honor Visionaries Hazel and Bill Hough and Patsy and Gene McNichols

Visionaries Hazel and Bill Hough and Patsy and Gene McNichols to Be Honored at April 10 Benefit

Tampa Bay, FL (March 5, 2013) — The Foundation Fighting Blindness, a national nonprofit focused on sight-saving research, will open guests’ eyes to the challenges of the visually impaired at its 4th Annual Tampa Bay – St. Petersburg Dining in the Dark on Wednesday, April 10, at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club in St. Petersburg. To recognize their philanthropic and professional accomplishments in the Tampa Bay community, the Foundation will present its Visionary Award to Hazel and Bill Hough and Patsy and Gene McNichols. Serving as master of ceremonies again this year will be legendary sports personality and Tampa Bay Rays Senior Advisor Dick Crippen.

Dining in the Dark is a distinctive sensory awareness experience in which guests participate in an unforgettable dining adventure, in complete darkness. To get a glimpse into the lives of the blind, diners will wear special light-blocking blindfolds and enjoy their entrée using only their heightened senses of smell, sound, taste and touch. The one-of-a-kind event will benefit the Foundation’s cutting-edge research into preventions, treatments and cures for vision-robbing retinal degenerative diseases like macular degeneration, retinitis pigmentosa, Usher syndrome and related conditions.

“Reactions to Dining in the Dark are truly powerful because the experience opens people up to the daily challenges of people living with low to no vision,” says Dinner Co-Chair and Foundation Fighting Blindness National Trustee Dr. Kamal Majeed, of St. Petersburg. President and CEO of Tampa-based NexTech Systems, Dr. Majeed is motivated in the fight against blindness because his late mother experienced vision loss later in life, and his mother-in-law is now losing her sight to age-related macular degeneration. “We’re thrilled to honor these visionaries and their notable contributions to the Tampa Bay community, as we come together to support promising advancements happening in gene therapy, stem cell and pharmaceutical-based research that stand to one day help the millions affected with retinal diseases.”

Co-chairing the event with Dr. Majeed is Foundation Fighting Blindness National Trustee Patricia M. Campbell-Stichweh, whose daughter Melissa became a doctor despite having the vision-robbing disease retinitis pigmentosa. Visionary Award recipients Hazel and Bill Hough are well-known Tampa Bay philanthropists, notably supporting The University of Florida with the largest private contribution in the institution’s history, establishing the Hough Graduate School of Business. And, Mr. Hough has made a significant mark on the finance world through founding the investment banking firm William R. Hough & Co. decades ago in St. Petersburg. Also receiving the Foundation’s Visionary Award are philanthropists Patsy and Gene McNichols, Chairman and CEO of McNichols Company, which is North America’s leading supplier of various forms of metal. Mr. McNichols is the immediate past chair of the board of trustees for The University of Tampa, currently serves on the board of trustees for the David A. Straz Center for Performing Arts and the Tampa General Hospital. Both Visionary Awards couples are being recognized for their community and business leadership, as well as their ongoing support for the fight against blindness.


Tampa Bay Dining in the Dark, benefiting the Foundation Fighting Blindness


Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club
501 5th Avenue NE
St. Petersburg, FL 33701


Wednesday, April 10, 2013
6 p.m. Reception
7-9 p.m. Award Program & Dining in the Dark

Individual tickets are $150 each and sponsor packages begin at $1,000. Sponsors at the $2,500 level and higher are invited to attend a V.I.P. Social hosted by the event chairs on April 3 at the Salvador Dali Museum.   For ticket and sponsorship information, please contact Lesley Ireland at (866) 782-7330 or To RSVP as a member of the media or schedule an interview with an event spokesperson, please contact Allie Gebhardt at (410) 423-0643 or

About Foundation Fighting Blindness

The Foundation Fighting Blindness is a national non-profit organization driving the research that will lead to preventions, treatments and cures for retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, Usher syndrome and the entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases that affect more than 10 million Americans. Since 1971, the Foundation has raised over $500 million as the leading non-governmental funder of retinal research. Breakthrough Foundation-funded studies using gene therapy have restored significant vision in children and young adults who were previously blind, paving the way for additional clinical trials to treat a variety of retinal degenerative diseases, and proving a cure is in sight. With a network of nearly 50 chapters, the Foundation also provides support, information and resources to affected individuals and their families in communities across the country.

Original Date: 
Tuesday, March 5, 2013