Baltimore, MD; October 23, 2017– KeraLink International proudly hosted its first annual Steps for Sight fundraising event, exceeding expectations and raising over $100,000 to support their mission: reversing corneal blindness globally through transplantation.
“In concert with the Baltimore Running Festival, we sought to revitalize KeraLink International’s (formerly Tissue Banks International’s) Run for TBI campaign. This event was a fantastic way to unite our nationwide network of medical eye banks with one goal- taking literal 'steps for sight,' said John J. Grande, Steps for Sight Volunteer Co-Chair and member of KeraLink International’s Board of Directors.
On October 21, 2017, Ironman Daniel Jess II, corneal transplant recipient and event spokesperson, joined KeraLink’s 43 sponsored runners as they took to the streets of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, Fells Point, and Historic Federal Hill Districts. With every step, KeraLink board members and staff, local surgeons, ophthalmologists, researchers, and benefactors raised funds that will directly contribute to helping numerous men, women, and children suffering from corneal blindness.
The event, hosted at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court in Downtown Baltimore, was the perfect venue for KeraLink to launch their new fundraising campaign that attracted over 35 additional event sponsors from across the country. One major sponsor, Sheila Bechert, contributed $10K in memory of her late husband, Charles “Skip” Bechert, II, M.D. Dr. Bechert was a prominent ophthalmologist in the Fort Lauderdale area from 1966 to his retirement in 2001. He was highly regarded internationally as a lecturer, teacher and inventor of surgical instruments. Raising the bar for all ophthalmic surgeons, Dr.Bechert helped found the American College of Eye Surgeons and established a certification based on skill.
"It was a huge challenge and it was a little bit of an affront, but it's raising the bar, raising the quality of medicine for patients," stated Sheila Bechert. Dr. Bechert understood that if corneal surgeons were not properly trained, people lost their sight. Thirty years later, many of Dr. Bechert’s controversial procedures are now standard practice. The money the Bechert family contributed to KeraLink International’s Steps for Sight fundraiser will also go towards advancing the research that ophthalmologists like Dr. Bechert began so many years ago. Morgan and Alexandra Weber, grandchildren of Sheila and Skip Bechert, traveled from Washington, DC to represent their family at the event, and present their generous contribution.
Several other benefactors were in attendance as well, including Frederick N. Griffith, founder of KeraLink International, Dr. Walter J. Stark (member of the board of directors, as well as former National Medical Director for KeraLink International) and Dr. Esen Akpek of John’s Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute (current National Medical Director for KeraLink International).
Special Thank You to our event sponsors:
Diamond Sponsors ($10,000+)
Sheila Bechert - In Memory of Charles H. (Skip) Bechert, II, M.D.
Doug & Beth Furlong
Platinum Sponsors ($5,000+)
Gold Sponsors ($2,500+)
Grande Financial Services
Kathi & Joe Terlizzese
Kramon & Graham, P.A.
Rosenberg, Martin, & Greenberg, LLP
Shipman & Goodwin, LLP
Tessie & John Smith
The Farazdaghi Family
The Ort Family
The Vossekuil Family
Silver Sponsors ($1,000+)
BB&T Insurance Services
Bowie & Jensen, LLC
C. Thomas Vangsness, Jr., M.D.
Hartman Executive Advisors
Johns Hopkins University– Wilmer Eye Institute
Lightning Express Delivery
Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland
Marsha & Bill Link
Quality Solutions, LLC
The Lyons Family
VTI Life Sciences
Walter & Polly Stark
Washington Regional Transplant Community
The second annual Steps for Sight fundraising event will take place October 20, 2018.
About KeraLink International:
KeraLink International is a non-profit, non-governmental network of eye banks and related programs committed to reversing corneal blindness wherever it exists. The organization accomplishes this by investing in world-class facilities, medical education, collaboration with other members of the transplant community, creative development campaigns and cutting-edge research, as well as by providing charitable tissue both domestically and internationally to patients in need. KeraLink International is proud that its cooperative relationships with multiple Organ Procurement Organizations and other eye banks allow it to extend its reach. With seven processing centers strategically located throughout the United States, KeraLink International is positioned to process and deliver high quality tissue to surgeons and their patients. In addition, KeraLink’s international arm, the International Federation of Eye Banks (IFEB), provides support, oversight and innovative programming assistance to 29 IFEB members around the world.
If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Kathleen Terlizzese at firstname.lastname@example.org or 443-498-0129.