Helen Keller International Raises Approximately $1 Million To Prevent Blindness and Malnutrition Around the World

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Internationally Renowned Economist Tom Arnold Applauds Organization’s Efforts in Fighting Malnutrition

"What I admire so much about Helen Keller International is that they are about real results, learning from those results, and applying them for positive change." - Tom Arnold, 2014 Helen Keller Humanitarian Award Recipient

Helen Keller International, one of the oldest global nonprofit organizations devoted to preventing blindness and reducing malnutrition, last night celebrated the 2014 Spirit of Helen Keller Gala in New York. The event raised approximately $1 Million in support of its sight and lifesaving efforts in Africa, Asia and the United States.

More than 300 supporters and trustees gathered at 583 Park Avenue in New York City to honor those who have joined with Helen Keller International in furthering its vital mission and work in reducing hunger and preventable blindness in some of the world’s poorest places.

Event highlights included international economist and humanitarian Tom Arnold accepting the Helen Keller Humanitarian Award in recognition of his extraordinary dedication to ending child hunger and improving maternal health in the developing world. In addition to his tenure as CEO of Concern Worldwide, Ireland’s leading humanitarian organization, from 2001-2013, Mr. Arnold has served on a number of high-level bodies including the UN Millennium Project’s Hunger Task Force, the Irish Hunger Task Force, the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund’s Advisory Group, and the European Food Security Group. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Convention on the Irish Constitution; Director General of the Institute of European and International Affairs; as well as Chairperson of the Irish Times Trust and a Director of the Irish Times, Ireland’s leading newspaper. The award was presented by Ambassador David Donoghue, Ireland’s permanent representative to the United Nations.

"To be connected with an award named for Helen Keller, whose life was about unleashing human potential, is both an honor and a humbling experience," Mr. Arnold said in his acceptance of the award. "What I admire so much about Helen Keller International, the organization she founded, is how much it reminds of Concern. It's about real results, learning from those results, and applying them for positive change. Over the next decade, if we keep moving in this direction, we can make a real impact in reducing childhood malnutrition."

“Tom has also been a powerful voice in drawing attention to the critical importance of good nutrition during the 1,000 days from pregnancy through a child’s second birthday. That’s when life’s building blocks are laid,” Helen Keller International President and CEO Kathy Spahn noted. “We have enjoyed a wonderful partnership with him and Concern Worldwide, sharing crucial information and developing programs to ensure that children are reached before the devastating effects of malnutrition are irreversible.”

This year’s gala also featured Oscar-nominated actress Abigail Breslin, who served as Honorary Junior Chair. “I am not only here because one of my heroes founded this organization, but also because I am incredibly impressed and inspired by the work of Helen Keller International in preventing blindness and reducing malnutrition around the world,” she shared with supporters. “In 2010 I was given the opportunity to portray this extraordinary young woman on Broadway. Through that experience, I gained some important insights, into the incredible obstacles Helen overcame to become a leading humanitarian and inspiration for generations to come.”

Jennifer A. Buda, Beverly Miller Orthwein, and Desmond G. FitzGerald served as Gala Co-Chairs.

Other guests included Ellen Agler, CEO, The END Fund; Count Riprand Arco-Zinneberg, Senior Advisor, Crestview Partners; Henry Barkhorn, Chair, Helen Keller International Board of Trustees; Brenda Colatrella, Executive Director, Global Health Partnerships, Merck; Jim Hynes, COO, Concern Worldwide; Bradford Perkins, Principal, Perkins Eastman Architects; Doug Peterson, President & CEO, McGraw Hill Financial; Dina Powell, President, Goldman Sachs Charitable Foundation; and James H. Simmons III, Partner, AREA Property Partners; and Peter Thum, Founder, Ethos Water, and his wife, actress Cara Bouno.

Founded in 1915, Helen Keller International’s mission is to save the sight and lives of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. We combat the causes and consequences of blindness and malnutrition by establishing programs based on evidence and research in vision, health and nutrition.

Helen Keller International currently has more than 180 programs in 21 African and Asian countries. Part of the work is focused on preventing blindness for millions of vulnerable people through cataract surgery, vision correction, vitamin A supplementation, screening and treatment for diabetic retinopathy, and distribution of treatments and cures for Neglected Tropical Diseases. Helen Keller International is also dedicated to reducing malnutrition through vitamin A supplementation, fortification of staple foods with essential nutrients, homestead food production, and community based management of acute malnutrition. Helen Keller International also reaches thousands of under-served youth in the United States each year through ChildSight®. This unique program provides free vision screenings and prescription eyeglasses to students living in poverty in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Ohio, New Mexico and California.

Visit http://www.hki.org for more information.

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Heather Mangrum
Helen Keller International
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