Event Brings Donor Family and Cornea Recipient Together
CHICAGO, IL — Bausch + Lomb, the global eye health company, and the Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA), the nation’s oldest transplant association, announced the results of the 27th Annual Run for Vision 5K benefit run/walk, held Sunday at Grant Park in downtown Chicago. More than 350 participants ran in the charity event, raising $16,805 in support of the EBAA to facilitate corneal transplants. Bausch + Lomb has sponsored the Run for Vision for nearly three decades, and since its inception, the race has raised more than a quarter of a million dollars in support of the EBAA.
Michelle Keagle, and her two sisters, Christy Gault and Kathy Lewis, traveled to Chicago from Nebraska, Colorado and Virginia with their own special reason to participate. In 2007 their brother, Ryan Otte, died in an Iowa hospital at the age of 21, following a tragic farm-related accident in northeastern Nebraska.
“The family never had to think twice about donating his organs, as Ryan had made a point to tell everyone he was registered as a donor,” said Keagle.
One of Otte’s corneas was successfully transplanted to Rebecca Koltveit, a then 16-year old student from Pontiac, IL, whose sight was threatened by a serious corneal infection in her right eye.
The day before the run, Koltveit, now a senior at Eureka College, finally got to meet Otte’s sisters at a gathering facilitated by the Iowa Lions Eye Bank. Together, they participated in the Run for Vision, oblivious to the morning chill.
“It was an honor and a privilege to finally meet Rebecca. It has been uplifting and heart-warming to know how grateful she is for the gift of sight and gratifying to know that even in our loss -- the outcome has restored another individual’s everyday quality of life,” said Keagle, speaking on behalf of the family.
Koltveit finished first in her division Sunday with a time of 28:13.
“Because my cornea donor always helped others, I wish to follow in his footsteps,” said Koltveit. “The Run for Vision is my first 5K that supports cornea donation and I am running to honor my donor, Ryan Otte. My message to everyone is to sign up to be a donor today!”
Also participating in the run was corneal surgeon Dr. Kenneth Goins, director of cornea and external disease services at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics (UIHC) and medical director of the Iowa Lions Eye Bank. Dr. Goins performed Koltveit’s corneal transplant.
Kathleen Fuller ran in honor of her husband, Brian, who passed away two years ago and became a corneal tissue donor. Since then, Fuller has participated in the annual donor family remembrance ceremony held by the Illinois Eye Bank, which is located in Chicago.
"Being able to meet with a recipient who has benefited from the generosity of a donor and to see and hear how grateful and life changing it has been for them is rewarding," said Fuller.
The Bausch + Lomb-sponsored Run for Vision 5K benefit run/walk is held annually in conjunction with the Annual American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) meeting, currently underway at McCormick Place Convention Center.
“The Run for Vision is one of the highlights of the year at EBAA; it brings together hundreds of doctors, eye bankers, cornea donors and recipients to demonstrate their support for ocular donation,” said Kevin Corcoran, president and chief executive officer of the EBAA. Our members look forward to this event every year. None of this would be possible without the continuing support of Bausch + Lomb.”
About the Eye Bank Association of America
The Eye Bank Association of America (EBAA), established in 1961, is the nation’s oldest transplant association. The EBAA has led the transplantation field with the establishment of medical standards for the distribution of eyes, accreditation of eye banking facilities and training and certification programs for eye banking personnel. These standards have been used as models for other transplantation organizations. EBAA member eye banks operate in the United States, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. These eye banks facilitated more than 60,000 sight-restoring corneal transplants in 2011.
About Bausch + Lomb
Bausch + Lomb is one of the best-known and most respected healthcare companies in the world. Its core businesses include contact lenses and lens care products, ophthalmic surgical devices and instruments, and ophthalmic pharmaceuticals. Founded in 1853, the company is headquartered in Rochester, NY, and employs roughly 11,000 people worldwide. Its products are available in more than 100 countries. More information is available at www.bausch.com.
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News Media Contacts
Global Surgical Communications, Bausch + Lomb
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Manager of Communications, Eye Bank Association of America
202-775-4999 ex. 118 or Trish@restoresight.org
BioComm Network on behalf of Bausch + Lomb
(714) 273-2937 or theitmann@BioCommNetwork.com