The Philadelphia fundraiser will take place on June 18, giving guests a first-hand glimpse of blindness

Foundation Fighting Blindness Hosts Dining in the Dark To Open Eyes to Challenges of the Visually Impaired, Benefit Sight-Saving Research
The Barnes Foundation’s Derek Gillman To Receive Visionary Award at June 18 Event

Philadelphia, PA (April 23, 2013) — The Foundation Fighting Blindness, a national nonprofit focused on sight-saving research, will present its Visionary Award to Derek A. Gillman, Executive Director and President of the Barnes Foundation, at the 4th Annual Philadelphia Dining in the Dark. The unique event will take place on Tuesday, June 18, at6 p.m. atthe Union League of Philadelphia and give guests a first-hand glimpse into the lives of the visually impaired. It will also benefit the Foundation’s research into preventions, treatments and cures for blinding retinal degenerative diseases like macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa that affect more than 10 million Americans, young and old. Serving as Master of Ceremonies is local sportscaster Lou Tilley.  

Dining in the Dark is a distinctive sensory awareness experience in which guests participate in an unforgettable dining adventure, in complete darkness. To get first-hand insight into the challenges of the blind community, diners will wear special light-blocking masks and eat their entrée using only their heightened senses of smell, sound, taste and touch. Created in Germany, Dining in the Dark is a one-of-a kind concept that has been enjoyed by many people across Europe before moving to America in 2005.

“Reactions to Dining in the Dark are truly powerful because people often don’t realize the daily obstacles of living with low to no vision,” says Dinner Co-Chair Ed Babin, of Berwyn, a Foundation Fighting Blindness board member whose two sons have a sight-robbing condition called Stargardt disease. “We’re thrilled to recognize the accomplishments of Derek Gillman, as we come together to support cutting-edge research that could save and restore vision for my sons, and millions more around the world.”

Visionary Award Honoree Derek Gillman, of Merion Station, is an Oxford-educated art historian and author who became executive director and president of the Barnes Foundation in 2006. He has dedicated his career to preserving and sharing the arts, formerly at the helm of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where he oversaw the institution’s 200th anniversary in 2005. Gillman also knows the impact of sight loss because his wife Yael Hirsch, also an art historian and writer, suffers from macular degeneration, a disease that robs central vision. The Foundation Fighting Blindness is recognizing Gillman for his contributions to the arts community and support of the mission to save and restore sight.    

Co-chairing the event with Ed Babin is Haverford resident Brook Lenfest, Chairman and CEO of NetCarrier, Inc. and a Partner in LGL Partners, who was presented with the Foundation’s Visionary Award in 2012. “The Foundation Fighting Blindness is a great investment because funding helps advance new treatment approaches,” says Lenfest. “Two examples of this progress are gene therapy clinical trials that have restored significant vision in several patients, and the recently FDA-approved Argus II retinal prosthesis, which gives some sight back to people with advanced retinal disease."

For more information about Dining in the Dark, contact Lisa Gallipoli at 212-244-1470 or To request media credentials for the event, or to coordinate an interview with a spokesperson, contact Allie Gebhardt at 410-423-0643 or



Philadelphia Dining in the Dark, benefitting the Foundation Fighting Blindness


The Union League of Philadelphia
140 South Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102


Tuesday, June 18, 2013
6-7 p.m. Reception
7-9 p.m. Visionary Award Program & Dining in the Dark


2012 Philadelphia Dining in the Dark (Credit: Thomas Robert Clarke)

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: 
Tuesday, April 23, 2013