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Sisters fight blindness with footsteps at VisionWalk

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Affected with a retinal disease that is robbing her vision, Shannon Stapp of Dallas, along with her sister Stephanie Tyson of Flower Mound, are taking a stand against blindness. The siblings are co-chairing the 4th Annual Dallas/Ft. Worth VisionWalk this Saturday, May 14, to raise awareness and money for leading-edge blindness research.

Stapp, who is affected with the vision-robbing retinal disease retinitis pigmentosa (RP), has been passionate about making a difference through the Foundation for over 35 years, and the sisters hope their “Tx RP Rangers” VisionWalk team raises $7,500 this year.

“As someone who suffers with a retinal degenerative disease, I know what it is like to walk into the doctor’s office and hear year over year that there isn’t a cure for what ails me,” said Stapp.

”I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa when I was around five years old. My parents noticed something was up when they took me out trick-or-treating and I kept walking up to the shrub instead of the front door and asking for candy.”

“It’s heartbreaking to watch someone I love suffer from a disease that is robbing her vision,” said Stapp’s sister, Stephanie Tyson.

“Fortunately, the Foundation Fighting Blindness is funding many avenues of leading-edge research and has already restored vision in a breakthrough gene therapy clinical trial that shows promise for treating several retinal diseases. VisionWalk is an important event that will advance us one step closer to a cure.”

The Foundation Fighting Blindness (www.FightBlindness.org) will host its 4th Annual Dallas/Ft. Worth 5K VisionWalk, presented by Walmart, on Saturday, May 14, at QuikTrip BallPark, 400 Park Dr. East in Grand Prairie, TX.

Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the Walk will start at 10:30 a.m. The event will raise money for blindness research that will lead to preventions, treatments and cures for retinal degenerative diseases, including retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, Usher syndrome, Stargardt disease, and numerous others. These sight-stealing diseases affect more than 10 million Americans of all races and ethnic groups, young and old.

More than 1,000 community members are expected to attend this year’s VisionWalk, including hundreds of the 1,300 Walmart associates from more than 60 area stores who participated in “Save Your Vision Month.” Through this program, associates volunteered their time to walk in support of their store VisionWalk teams while learning about eye health and important wellness tips provided by the Foundation Fighting Blindness. The Merriman Foundation is also a sponsor at the Community Captain level.

People are invited to form teams or walk independently at the free, family-friendly event, which will feature a bounce house, live band, children’s activities, refreshments, and more.

Since the VisionWalk program started in 2006, more than 45,000 people have taken part in local walks across the country to raise more than $15 million for blindness research.

“For me, I think the simplest way to sum things up is that the VisionWalk equals hope,” said Stapp.

To participate in the Dallas/Ft. Worth VisionWalk, or to learn more about supporting local or national VisionWalk events for the Foundation Fighting Blindness, visit www.VisionWalk.org, or call Aaron Rager, event director, at 214-872-2907.

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