Foundation Fighting Blindness To Honor Janet and Senator Frank Kelly at Baltimore Visionary Awards Dinner

Foundation Fighting Blindness To Honor Janet and Senator Frank Kelly at Baltimore Visionary Awards Dinner June 5 To Benefit Sight-Saving Research

ABC2 Anchor Jamie Costello To Serve as Master of Ceremonies

Baltimore, MD (April 25, 2013) — The Foundation Fighting Blindness, a national nonprofit focused on sight-saving research, will present its Visionary Award to Janet and the Honorable Francis X. Kelly, Jr., a former Maryland state senator and founder and chairman of Kelly & Associates Insurance Group, at the Baltimore Visionary Awards Dinner. The event, taking place on Wednesday, June 5, at 6 p.m., at the Center Club, will benefit research into preventions, treatments and cures for vision-robbing retinal degenerative diseases that affect more than 10 million Americans. Serving as the evening’s master of ceremonies will be ABC2 Anchor Jamie Costello.  

Janet and Senator Frank Kelly, residents of Hunt Valley, Maryland, founded a small insurance company in 1976 that today is one of Maryland’s fastest growing privately held firms with nearly 13,000 corporate clients and 450 employees. During his 12-year tenure as a Maryland State Senator representing northern Baltimore County, Senator Kelly helped establish the Spending Affordability Committee that has saved taxpayers billions of dollars, and he advocated for creation of the University System of Maryland. A University of Maryland Medical System director since its inception, Senator Kelly has chaired its Shock Trauma Center board, and was recently appointed board chair of the newly created University of Maryland/St. Joseph’s Medical Center. Janet is a trustee of Stevenson University, a board director of Stella Maris, a nominating committee member at the National Aquarium and an emeritus board member at Sparrow House Maternity Home. The Kellys, married for over 50 years with four sons and 22 grandchildren, were also named Philanthropists of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. The Kelly family understands the impact of low vision because Janet, their son John and grandson David, Jr. have Best disease, an inherited form of macular degeneration characterized by central sight loss. Despite the challenges, they have hope that Foundation-funded research will lead to treatments and a cure.

Co-chairing the event are Foundation Fighting Blindness National Trustees Lu Ann and Jay Blackman, of Towson. Mr. Blackman, a former Wilmer Eye Institute administrator, now serves as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Mrs. Blackman is an author and educator at St. Paul’s School for Girls in Brooklandville, Md. Serving as honorary co-chairs are Myrna and Morton F. Goldberg, M.D.,the Joseph E. Green Professor of Ophthalmology and Director Emeritus of the Wilmer Eye Institute at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Bonnie andBruce Sawyer, a Foundation Fighting Blindness National Board Member whose daughter has the vision-robbing disease retinitis pigmentosa. Dinner committee members include Annie and Doug Biser, Mindy and David Caplan, La Gina Facinoli, Harriet and David Finkelstein, Lois and Dick Hug, Cheryl Malone, Jeff Malone, Rooney and Ron Peterson, Dawn and Kyle Richardson, Casey Schurman, and Debbie and Matt Stover. Past Visionary Award honorees include former Ravens player Matt Stover and former Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich.

“There is sight-saving research underway right here in Baltimore that stands to help people who are losing precious vision to retinal diseases,” says Mr. Blackman. “The Foundation Fighting Blindness invests the critical funds raised through this event into promising gene, stem-cell and pharmaceutical-based studies and clinical trials that give hope to the families affected by these blinding conditions. We’re thrilled to recognize the accomplishments and community leadership of these two deserving Marylanders.”

Individual tickets for the Baltimore Visionary Awards Dinner are $350 and sponsorships begin at $2,500. For ticket and sponsorship information, contact Dina Beaumont at 202-530-4672 or To request media credentials, or to coordinate an interview with an event spokesperson, contact Allie Gebhardt at 410-423-0643 or


Baltimore Visionary Awards Dinner, benefitting the Foundation Fighting Blindness


The Center Club
100 Light Street, 16th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21202


Wednesday, June 5, 2013
6-7 p.m. Reception and Silent Auction
7-9 p.m. Dinner and Awards Program

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 more than $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. With a coveted four-star rating from Charity Navigator, the Foundation also has nearly 50 chapters that provide support, information and resources to affected individuals and their families in communities across the country.

Original Date: 
Thursday, April 25, 2013