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Drive to cure blindness hits $5 million

Medicine@Yale, 2005 - June July


The Medical School’s Anlyan Center was graced with white linen and fresh flowers at a March celebration to mark the successful completion of a five-year, $5 million campaign to build a new center for macular degeneration research at Yale.

The campaign was given a jumpstart at the outset, thanks to a $500,000 donation from the Connecticut Lions Club Eye Research Foundation in 2000. On its heels came a $1 million challenge grant from Foresight Inc., a Connecticut-based eye-research charity founded by former patients of Yale ophthalmologists.

Kenneth and Christine Lo, who traveled from Taiwan to attend the March event, contributed $500,000 to the effort, and two Yale Vision Galas organized by Cecilia Teitell of Stamford, Conn., raised another $385,000.

Rocky Cingari, a longtime Connecticut Lions member from Darien, crisscrossed the state during the campaign seeking additional contributions from local Lions Clubs, friends and business contacts.

Cingari coordinated a separate appeal to employees and customers of ShopRite supermarkets, including the seven he owns in southwestern Connecticut with his brothers Sam and Dominic, and he planned charity golf tournaments held in conjunction with ShopRite and the Darien Lions.

With donations from the Darien-based E. Matilda Ziegler Foundation for the Blind and from William Ziegler, the campaign reached its $5 million goal in January.

Offering thanks to all who made contributions toward building the center, which will be known as the Connecticut Lions Macular Degeneration Research Center, Bruce Shields, M.D., the chair and Marvin Sears Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, said, “We have been very blessed with an incredible number of dedicated and talented people, to whom we are grateful beyond words.”

As donors mingled with Yale doctors and scientists during a cocktail reception, the vast Starr Atrium echoed with strains of the Beatles’ “Blackbird” played on classical guitar. Lennon and McCartney’s lyrics— Take these sunken eyes and learn to see—were never more apt.

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