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Local News January 31, 2013  RSS feed

Supermarkets Help Fight Blindness

Fund-Raiser In Flushing Meadows

The Foundation Fighting Blindness, a national nonprofit dedicated to sight-saving research, hosted its 2nd Annual ‘Una Visi√≥n Para El Futuro’ (A Vision for the Future) on Thursday, Jan. 17, at Terrace on the Park in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Nearly 600 supermarket industry leaders came together to honor the accomplishments and community involvement of Key Food Chief Executive Dean Janeway, who was presented with the Foundation’s Visionary Award. The event raised critical awareness about retinal degenerative diseases and $450,000 toward research into preventions, treatments and cures.

Chairing the event for the second year was Jason Ferreira of New Hyde Park, NY, a Foundation national trustee and first-generation Dominican American whose family owns a group of Met Foodmarkets. His young son JJ was born blind due to a rare genetic form of RP called Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA). Determined to help advance research toward treatments and a cure, Ferreira has been a passionate Foundation advocate since JJ’s diagnosis in 2010, raising hundreds of thousands for innovative work that could save his son’s sight.

“We’re thrilled to recognize the support and leadership of Dean Janeway,” says Ferreira. “Progress in gene therapy and stem cell-based clinical trials gives us hope for a brighter future for JJ and the 10 million other families in America affected by blinding retinal diseases. Leaders coming together for this important cause is a true testament to the giving spirit of our industry.”

Ferreira’s co-chair was Amie Kreisberg of Manhattan, who is motivated in the fight against blindness because her stepson, Jeremy, has retinitis pigmentosa (RP), an inherited disease that progressively robs peripheral vision. Her grandfather was president of Key Food in Brooklyn, and her father Lawrence Mandel currently serves as chairman of the board.

Emceeing this year’s event was special guest, the reigning Mrs. World, April Lufriu, who is devoted to vision-saving research and awareness because she and her two children are also affected with RP.

As chief executive of Key Food Stores Co-Operative since 2008, Visionary Award Honoree Janeway, of Morristown, NJ, oversees the company’s 127 supermarkets in Metro New York.

He’s also held leadership positions at The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company and The Campbell Soup Company.

The evening’s Visionary Sponsors included Acosta Sales; Advantage Sales Inc.; Allegiance Retail Services; Anchin, Block & Anchin; Bozutto’s Inc.; C&S Produce; C&S Wholesale Grocers; CBA Industries, Inc.; Farmland; Federated; Fresh Express; Krasdale; Amie and Louis Kreisberg; Man-Dell Food Stores; Nicotra; Procter & Gamble; RDD Associates Inc.; Ropes & Gray LLP; Tropicana; and Wright Program Management.

The Foundation Fighting Blindness is a Columbia, Md.-based nonprofit 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 over $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.