Helen Keller International Raises More Than $1.1 Million To Prevent Blindness and Malnutrition Around the World

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Applauds HKI Impact at Gala Event

New York, New York, UNITED STATES

NEW YORK, May 22, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Helen Keller International, one of the oldest and most effective international NGOs devoted to preventing blindness and reducing malnutrition in the world, last night presented its eighth annual Spirit of Helen Keller Gala. The event raised more than $1.1 million in support of its sight and lifesaving efforts in some of the world's poorest countries.

More than 330 supporters and trustees gathered at Christie's Auction House in New York to celebrate this year's theme "The Spirit of a Woman," and recognize the need to empower and support women as mothers, breadwinners and community leaders, with a powerful role to play in alleviating poverty.

Event highlights included The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton accepting the Helen Keller Humanitarian Award in recognition of her tireless dedication to the global fight against undernutrition and improving food and nutrition security around the world.

"The leadership from this organization, rooted in such a remarkable woman, has changed so many lives and so many minds over the last century," said Secretary Clinton. "I'm proud of the work we've done together."

HKI President and CEO Kathy Spahn noted that "HKI has a very simple premise – to provide our fellow human beings with basic things that we often take for granted – our sight and our health, and our ability to get the care we need when these are threatened." She also spoke of HKI's vision "of a world in which no one is needlessly blind, and where no child gets cheated of his or her potential because he or she didn't have the right foods to eat" and thanked the hundreds of supporters in the room for their generosity "which is truly transforming the lives of women, children and families around the world."

Christie's CEO Steven Murphy made a special trip from his London offices to present The Spirit of Helen Keller Award to longtime trustee and devoted HKI advocate Kate Ganz in recognition of her extraordinary dedication and support to HKI programs. Lions Clubs International First Vice President Barry Palmer flew in from Australia for to accept the Helen Keller Visionary Award on behalf of his organization for their generous support of HKI programs. 

Christopher Burge, Honorary Chair of Christie's, served as Gala Honorary Chair.  HKI Trustee D. Brooks Betts and Karin & Henry Barkhorn, HKI Board Chair, served as Gala Co-Chairs.

Other guests included Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO, PepsiCo; Nancy and James Buckman (Director, Wyndham Worldwide); philanthropists Sarah and Geoff Gund; Audrey and Zygi Wilf, Principal Owners, Minnesota Vikings; Daniella and Claudio Reyna (newly named Director of Football for New York City FC and former Captain of US Men's National Soccer Team); Brenda Colatrella, Executive Director, Global Health Partnerships, Merck; Dr. Alice Kandell, Vital Voices Global Partnership; Alan Siegel, Director Thor Industries; Marina Kellen French, The Metropolitan Opera; Sylvia de Cuevas, arts patron; Conor Jordan, Deputy Chairman, Impressionists and Modern Art, Christie's; Julie and David Tobey, Metropolitan Museum of Art Honorary Trustees; film producers Gail Mutrix and Tony Ganz; Desmond G. FitzGerald, American Properties Group; Bradford Perkins, Principal, Perkins Eastman Architects; and James H. Simmons III, Partner, AREA Property Partners.

HKI 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. HKI 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.  HKI also reaches thousands of underserved 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.

Founded in 1915, Helen Keller International's mission is to save the sight and lives of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. HKI combats the causes and consequences of blindness and malnutrition by establishing programs based on evidence and research in vision, health and nutrition. Visit www.hki.org for more information.

Media contact:
Heather Mangrum
Helen Keller International

Photos accompanying this release are available at:

HKI President and CEO Kathy Spahn with Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Spirit of Helen Keller Gala May 22, 2013 at Christie's, New York City Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Spirit of Helen Keller Gala May 22, 2013 at Christie's, New York.

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