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Partners for Pediatric Vision Donors Sip and Support to Keep Kids in Sight

Cathi Lundy, John and Laurie Bucher and Carol Marcil with PPV's Founder Tori Schladen

Palos Verdes Estates, California -- On October 22, 2023, Partners for Pediatric Vision thanked our donors during our "Sip and Support" event and raised funds to support the services we provide for hundreds of children with visual impairment and their families.

Donors, Board Members, and guests enjoyed Napa wines from Chateau Montelena, Altamura and Lamborn wineries and Laurel Glen winery in Sonoma with a catered feast presented by Critic's Choice. It was a beautiful afternoon along the ocean for this sold-out event to recognize the impact of PPV's services on the lives of children with permanent vision loss.

PPV's Executive Director, Diane Christian, talked about the unique and specialized services PPV provides, such as access to low-cost or free pediatric eye exams, low vision device demonstrations, psycho-social support, and family events.

PPV's Helen Kontorousis, Rosanna Sandoval, Mackenzie Bella Ponce, Tori Schladen, Heather Dawson and Diane Christian

"Our staff is trained to work with families who face the unique challenges of raising a child with permanent vision loss. Our Family Specialists are very compassionate and understand that partnering with families means allowing them time and space to talk and share their stories. A lot of the time, families tell us that their PPV Family Specialist provides the ear they need, someone who listens and truly cares about their child."

Heather Dawson, PPV's newest Family Specialist and mother of a two-year-old with visual impairment, was our featured speaker. She shared her emotional story of how she went from receiving support from PPV to being a part of our team.

Heather's son, Jett, was born with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia (ONH), meaning his optic nerves are extremely underdeveloped. He is completely blind in his left eye and legally blind in his right eye. Heather and her family moved to California from Japan to be close to a leading ONH researcher.

Heather said she did not know where to turn and where to find resources to help her son. She was then introduced to PPV through a friend and reached out to attend PPV's support group, "It was probably the most life-changing experience because I had no one else to talk to and I finally had someone else to be there for me."

George Krikorian and Megan Neel, Carole and Bill Waller, Ann Daly and Jim Schladen

Diane reassured Heather that there are many resources available to help and made the referral for Jett to begin services with LAUSD, where Jett is now enrolled in a class taught by a Teacher for the Visually Impaired and Orientation and Mobility specialist. Jett is learning to use his white cane and has become more social. He is meeting the milestones Heather and her husband were told he never would.

Heather says all of the support she received from PPV inspired her to want to give back to families of children with visual impairment. That's when Mackenzie, PPV Bilingual Family Specialist, reached out to Heather and let her know about our open position. Heather is happy to be able to help other families who may feel lost or alone, like she once did.

Board Member, Barbra Zukerman, talked about seeing the growth of PPV and the impact of being a Board Member, "Just listening to Heather's story touched me so much and made me feel so glad to be a part of increasing the scope of these critical services. I am committed to doing whatever I can to help, to keep PPV strong and resilient."

Please donate to help more children like Jett and to be listed among our cherished donors.

Watch Heather's full speech below

Janice Tecimer, Song Klein and Lori O'Hern

Norma Carrillo and Randy Steinberg

Susie and Mike McKinney with Karen and Rod Mitchell

Patti and Barry MacNaughton

Becky and Tony Yamada

PPV Board members Barbra Zukerman, Joanne Peterson, Lisa Detanna and Josh Carroll with PPV's Heather Dawson, Tori Schladen and Diane Christian

Dr. Teresa Rosales and Dr. Carlos Rosales with Tori Schladen

Vera Saap and PPV Board Member Lisa Detanna

Tony Yamada, Kristin Curren and Jerry Marcil

Laurie Bucher, Rich and Patti Severa

Susan and Patrick Wilde and Michael Schladen


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