Walter Johnson cheerleaders salute the crowd of walkers.
Two-year-old Henry Skrivanek of Olney is the poster child for the 6th Annual Montgomery County 5K VisionWalk. Henry is a smiling, happy toddler with a mischievous grin who loves Legos, blocks, cuddling, swings and the donuts served at the event. Henry has been blind since birth and was diagnosed with Leber's Congenital Amaurosis (LCA) before he was one-year-old. He is the inspiration for his team, “Henry Strikes Back” – a team that raised nearly $10,000 this year.
“Watching my son navigate the world as a blind toddler is a daily struggle, but we have so much hope, thanks to the exciting research and clinical trials underway for retinal diseases, made possible by the Foundation Fighting Blindness,” said “Henry Strikes Back” Team Captain Heather Skrivanek. “Raising awareness and funds for research through the VisionWalk is our way to help move the needle forward, so that one day my son Henry may not have to live in darkness.”
People touched by vision loss, along with their families, friends and eye professionals gathered to fight blindness at the 6th Annual Montgomery County 5K VisionWalk on Sunday, Sept. 27, at Rockville Town Square. Through their generosity and determination, they raised more than $112,000 to support gene therapy, stem cell, and pharmaceutical-based research that could save and even restore sight. Blinding retinal diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration and Usher syndrome affect more than 10 million Americans.
Henry’s grandfather, Joseph Skrivanek, said, “We have only become involved in the VisionWalk these past two years since Henry was born without sight. The importance of this organization and what they do for those with vision impairments is overwhelming. They are a wonderful resource for families and they inspire hope for everyone affected. It’s amazing that gene therapy can restore sight, and we are hoping that stem cell research as well as gene therapy will one day restore sight to Henry.”
Sunday’s VisionWalk also included children’s activities, a bounce house, refreshments, and entertainment featuring the Walter Johnson High School cheerleaders. Event leaders included Walk Chair Eric Fulton and FFB Montgomery County Chapter President John Splain, Foundation Fighting Blindness National Trustee Donna Burke Tehaan, and Tony Perkins from WTTG Fox 5 who served as master of ceremonies. The top sponsors included Community Champions: Martyn Foundation, the Julius Fleischman Foundation, and Donna, Mandy & Brad Tehaan and Community and Community Captain Sponsors: The Bender Foundation, the McPherson Splain Group, and GE Lighting.
The Foundation Fighting Blindness is funding studies toward preventions, treatments and cures. Since 1971, the foundation has raised nearly $600 million as the leading non-governmental funder of inherited 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. The foundation also has nearly 50 chapters that provide support, information and resources to affected individuals and their families in communities across the country.
To donate to the Foundation Fighting Blindness, go to www.fightblindness.org.