Founded in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1971, and now represented by 47 chapters across the country, the Foundation Fighting Blindness is, ostensibly, a national organization. But vision-robbing diseases know no boundaries. Eradicating them will, in effect, have global impact.
So it’s no surprise that the Foundation’s efforts reach beyond American shores. We fund, for example, researchers based in China, Israel and the UK, and our social media network—linked through Facebook and Twitter—reaches a virtual community calling innumerable countries “home.”
Still, the nucleus of the Foundation’s outreach efforts — a mix of public education and fundraising — can be found in the United States, where chapters from New York City to Los Angeles host meetings offering local members support and resources. Meanwhile, the Foundation’s national Public Health Education program, which includes everything from Public Service Announcements to local patient seminars, allows us to provide information and resources to people who live outside our chapter network. In fact, more than 5,400 free disease information packets were provided to individuals in 2012.
The Foundation’s signature 5K event, VisionWalk, is very much a “local” event, with each of the walks rallying a close-knit community behind families, friends and colleagues affected by retinal diseases. But, collectively, the national program is a big money-earner driven by an ever-growing number of participants due, in part, to the introduction of new markets. This past year, they were: Virginia Beach; Western Michigan; Fort Worth, Texas; Seattle, Washington; and Western New York.
Over the past three years, the number of walks has gone from 45 to 51, the number of registrants from 16,800 to more than 20,000, resulting this year in $4.7 million in revenues. That adds up to more than $24 million since VisionWalk began in 2006.
Last but not least, 2012 saw a significant up-tick in the Foundation’s relationships with high-profile businesses or industries — NASCAR, in Charlotte, for instance. As you dig deeper into this Outreach section, you can learn more about these budding relationships.
The second profile in this section explains the “viral” effects of the Foundation’s social media network and the expansion of its online community over the last year.
Added together, these elements amount to an outreach effort spanning regional, state and national levels, some of it rippling across the oceans. This effort continues to grow every year, earning the Foundation higher revenues, and, thus, more opportunities to mount clinical trials.