Foundation Fighting Blindness and Athletes for Hope Announce Strategic Partnership
This partnership will drive awareness for blinding diseases throughout the athletic community.
Vice President, Marketing & Communications
COLUMBIA, Maryland – May 2, 2023 – The Foundation Fighting Blindness, the world’s leading organization committed to finding treatments and cures for blinding retinal diseases, announced today a partnership with Athletes for Hope (AFH), a national nonprofit that assists athletes of all levels with community service and advocacy work. This partnership will build awareness for blinding diseases throughout the athletic community.
Across the world, there are thousands of blind or visually impaired athletes. To ensure these athletes have equal opportunities to pursue their passion, it is critical to educate around the spectrum of blindness. Custom content, such as the recent Foundation Beacon Story featuring Isaac Jean-Paul, will be developed to drive awareness for blinding diseases. Isaac was diagnosed with X-linked juvenile retinoschisis (XLRS) at the age of two but has always been set on being a professional athlete. Now he’s a Paralympian, winning bronze in the long jump in the 2020 Games and breaking the high jump world record three times.
Coinciding with Mental Health Awareness Month in May, the Foundation Fighting Blindness will be a partner of Athletes for Hope’s Whole Being Athlete Program. Established in May 2021, the Whole Being Athlete Program was created with the goal of amplifying the unique platforms of athletes of all backgrounds and shattering the stigma of mental health through four core pillars: education, storytelling, convening, and advocacy. As public figures and role models for adults and youth all over the world, athletes are in a unique position to change the way mental health is perceived in and out of sports by sharing their stories, spreading awareness and helping save lives.
“Mental health is at the forefront of everything we do at Athletes for Hope, and we are honored to partner with Foundation Fighting Blindness to amplify the mental health stories of visually-impaired athletes,” said Jason Belinkie, chief executive officer at AFH. “Along with Foundation Fighting Blindness’ expertise and their inspirational network, we are proud to help raise awareness on an important topic that the sports community may not be familiar with.”
Breaking down the barriers for those with blinding diseases is an important part of our work. We are proud to partner with Athletes for Hope as a unique opportunity to further raise awareness for blinding retinal diseases.
Throughout May, coproduced content will showcase sighted and visually impaired athletes from all walks of life who will share their personal stories of what life has been like through the changing lens of their own eyes. Between the individuals, there will be similarities, but for some, staying mentally healthy and balanced plays a significant role in their personal journey of vision loss.
Recently, Isaac Jean-Paul signed on to be an AFH Whole Being Athlete Ambassador as he is passionate about raising awareness for athlete mental health, particularly through the lens of disability.
“Breaking down the barriers for those with blinding diseases is an important part of our work,” said Jason Menzo, chief executive officer at the Foundation Fighting Blindness. “We are proud to partner with Athletes for Hope as a unique opportunity to further raise awareness for blinding retinal diseases.”
About the Foundation Fighting Blindness
Established in 1971, the Foundation Fighting Blindness is the world’s leading private funding source for retinal degenerative disease research. The Foundation has raised more than $891 million toward its mission of accelerating research for preventing, treating, and curing blindness caused by the spectrum of blinding retinal diseases including: retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, and Usher syndrome. Visit FightingBlindness.org for more information.
About Athletes for Hope
Founded by Muhammad Ali, Andre Agassi, Mia Hamm and nine other elite athletes in 2006, Athletes for Hope (AFH) is a cause-neutral non-profit that educates, encourages, and empowers athletes to find their passions and use their time to positively engage with their communities. For more than 16 years, AFH has educated more than 12,000 professional, Olympic, Paralympic and collegiate athletes through its Causeway workshop series, and helped athletes volunteer with hundreds of underserved schools and impactful community organizations through core programs that focus upon helping underserved children become more physically active, changing the public stigma around mental health, and brightening the lives of children in hospitals. Through their dedication and passion for doing good, AFH athletes have positively impacted the lives of millions around the world.