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18th Annual “The Eyes of Christmas”
Television Special for the Visually Impaired Kicks-off with “It’s A Wonderful Life,” Audio Described by
Former US President George H.W. Bush on Christmas Eve and is Followed by Special Holiday Programming Hosted by
Vin Scully and Hollywood Celebrities on Christmas Morning
LOS ANGELES -- (December 1, 2012) – Helen Harris’ RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa) International (www.rpinternational.org) — the longest-standing non-profit organization leading the way for medical and technological advancements for the visually impaired — initiates a Holiday Season fundraising campaign. Funds raised by this year’s 18th Annual “The Eyes of Christmas” television special will go directly towards the charity’s efforts to support the visually impaired.
“The Eyes of Christmas" television special is the brainchild of blind activist and RP International (RPI) founder Helen Harris. The event features TheatreVision™ airings of Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life,” which includes an optional simulcast audio track description on the SAP channel for the visually impaired, narrated by former President George Herbert Walker Bush. NBC will air the special on December the 1st and December 24th at 8:00 p.m.
“The Eyes of Christmas” culminates in a special 30-minute program on Christmas Day at 6:00 a.m. ET on ION Television. Participating stars that will be sharing Holiday messages and support for RPI include Vin Scully Celine Dion, Garth Brooks, Reba McIntyre, Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman, Bob Costas and Natalie Cole. Hollywood studios supporting the show and featuring special film trailers include Universal, Disney, Sony, Fox, and Warner Bros. Harris invites sighted viewers to tune in to take the "traveling eye test." This simple visual test is designed to help people spot possible signs of eye disorders to seek early diagnosis and treatment, possibly averting vision loss.
In addition, RPI is pleased to announce the release of Harris’ autobiography, How To Survive Losing Vision (AuthorHouse). As a homemaker in her 30s, Harris and two out of her three sons were diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa. For the next 40 years, she embarked on a mission to find a cure for blindness. The book offers her personal experiences, support and tips for anyone managing and overcoming progressive blindness due to retinal disease. It can be purchased on Amazon.com and at www.AuthorHouse.com for a suggested retail price of $16.95 (paperback) and $25.95 (hardcover). The book is also available as an e-book and a Kindle version, which is text-to-speech enabled. The audio book version—read by actors William Atherton (“Ghostbusters,” “Die Hard,” “The Last Samurai”) and Golden Globe winner Camryn Manheim ("The Practice," "The Ghost Whisperer")—will be availably by early 2012.
The song, “The Eyes of Christmas” can also be purchased by calling RP International at (818) 992-0631.
PRWeb Release and interactive media pages.
PLEASE VISIT THE EYES OF CHRISTMAS.ORG RIGHT NOW TO DONATE AND TO SEE AND HEAR MANY OF THE VIDEOS FROM THE HOLIDAY BROADCAST.
Spreads Holiday Hope with
Helen Harris’ Autobiography:
How To Survive Losing Vision TM
— Book about low vision offers support, tips and hope for the visually impaired —
LOS ANGELES -- (November 1, 2011) – Helen Harris’ RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa) International (www.rpinternational.org) — the longest-standing non-profit organization leading the way for medical and technological advancements for the visually impaired — is pleased to announce the release of Harris’ autobiography, How To Survive Losing Vision (authorHouse). As a homemaker in her 30s, Harris and two out of her three sons were diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa. For the next 40 years, she embarked on a mission to find a cure for blindness. The book offers her personal experiences, support and tips for anyone managing and overcoming progressive blindness due to retinal disease. The book is available for purchase at www.authorhouse.com for a suggested retail price of $16.95 (paperback) and $25.95 (hardcover).
Harris says, “This book will make a difference in the life of anyone struggling with sight loss or low vision. I wrote this book because I wished that someone had been able to give me this information and support when I was losing my own vision. It’s my own way of piercing the darkness and letting the visually impaired know that they are not alone.”
Harris founded RP International to raise awareness and funds for medical advancements for the visually impaired. She commissioned the first medical book written exclusively about Retinitis Pigmentosa, and she has been responsible for enlisting contributions, approximating $325 million for research and treatment for RP and other degenerative eye diseases.
She adds, “Within just the past several years alone, great strides have been made in retinal transplantation. What was impossible to even imagine five years ago will almost certainly become a reality within the next decade. New technologies and medical techniques have brought us to the threshold of hope—to the day when Retinitis Pigmentosa or Macular Degeneration will no longer carry with it a lifetime of darkness.”
For more information, please visit www.rpinternational.org.
Tuesday, 17 May 2011
Van Nuys - There aren't many resources for the blind in the Los Angeles area, and if the Van Nuys School for the Blind closes due to financial woes, there'll be even fewer.
FOX 11's Susan Hirasuna has the story in the video report.
If you'd like more information about the Van Nuys School for the Blind, also known as the Visually Handicapped Adults of the Valley, please check out rpinternational.org . You'll also find more information about the raffle of two $6,000 Lasik surgeries. Each $25 dollar donation qualifies as an entry for the prizes.
Story Script: WEEK TO WEEK... THAT'S HOW THE VAN NUYS SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND HAS TO OPERATE NOW.
Patricia O'Conner, Student: We're just all broken hearted about this.
THE SCHOOL LOST A $75,000 GRANT FROM THE CITY AT THE END OF 2010. THAT PALTRY FIGURE BARELY PAID FOR THE TEACHERS AND TWO DAYS OF ACTIVITIES.
by Bob Strauss, Staff Writer
VAN NUYS: Lack of funding may shut down campus for visually impaired.
Sarah Greenseid contentedly worked her yarn on a recent morning, her perpetual smile not entirely masking the anxiety felt by the visually impaired 99-year-old.
"It's really too bad, the possibility of the school not continuing," Greenseid said during a textile arts class at the Van Nuys School for the Blind, located in a rented classroom behind St. Andrew's Lutheran Church. "It's a very important part of everyone's life to have a place to come to where we can share our same problems, interact and still have a class.
"I will be sad if it doesn't continue."
As the Daily News reported in 2010, the school, also known as Visually Handicapped Adults of the Valley, is in a month-to-month struggle to keep offering the two classes it's managed to sustain this year. If the money isn't raised to cover classroom rental, the 39-year-old operation will have to close on May 19.
Celebrities and Professional Athletes Support the Cause
Retinitis Pigmentosa International (RPI)—a non-profit organization serving the visually impaired for 40 years—presents the TheatreVision Premiere of DreamWorks’ Oscar-nominated feature film “How To Train Your Dragon” for 200 young blind Olympians. TheatreVision’s audio description technique was first conceived in 1990 by RPI founder Helen Harris, a blind woman who was inspired to change the face of motion pictures so that visually impaired viewers could hear the on-screen action described by top talent and directors. William Atherton (“Die Hard,” “Ghostbusters”) lends his voice for the TheatreVision version of this film. The children will be treated to a Subway sponsored meal upon arriving at the Agrama Harmony Gold Preview House Theater, the venue which makes this event possible each year due to a gracious donation by Frank Agrama. The TheatreVision presentation is the crowning event for the Blind Olympics, the premier sporting event for athletes from across the Western United States who are blind and visually impaired.
By Bob Strauss, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/30/2010 09:19:04 PM PST
The Van Nuys School for the Blind, which was in danger of shutting down after Friday because of a funding shortage, will stay open for at least another month.
Although the 38-year-old school, which provides mobility and other crucial classes for seeing-impaired people, had not reached its year-end fundraising goal of $75,000 as of Thursday, it had received enough donations to pay the $2,000 rent on its Sherman Way facility through the end of January.
"I wish it was $75,000 and we could keep all of our programs in there, but we've got to keep going," said Helen Harris, president of the school and head of the nonprofit RP International, which is coordinating the fundraising drive. "We're going to have to cut the mobility classes - probably in half, rather than altogether - next month."
Van Nuys School for Blind needs donations
December 24, 2010
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A local school for the blind is making a desperate plea for donations.
The Van Nuys School for the Blind needs $75,000 by New Year's Eve or it might have to close its doors. Founder Helen Harris, who is legally blind herself, says the school is a crucial resource for those with degenerative eye disease. Harris says public funding has dried up and donations have plunged more than 50 percent.
"And that affects us in two ways, with our medical research for RP, and for day-to-day school that we have for the blind. It's going to close," said Harris.
The school is launching a last-ditch fundraising campaign this weekend.
(Copyright ©2010 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)
Posted: 12/22/2010 07:50:11 PM PST
The Van Nuys School for the Blind may be facing its end. But the folks who run the facility - which provides classes, assistance and, perhaps most crucially, a social outlet for the city's visually impaired and others in need - won't be going down without a fight.
The school, also known as the Visually Handicapped Adults of the Valley program, will launch a campaign this weekend in the hope of raising $75,000 to keep its doors open past Dec. 31.
"Bush Narrates 'It's A Wonderful Life'"
By KARIN TANABE | 12/23/10 8:47 AM EST
Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life," is the quintessential holiday movie for generations of Americans. On Christmas Eve, it's going to take on a whole new meaning for the visually impaired.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the classic black-and-white film will be complemented by a detailed oral description recorded by George. H.W. Bush, when it airs on NBC on the Dec. 24. The paper points out that it was Bush 41 "who signed the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990."
Anyone who is taking in "It's a Wonderful Life" on Christmas Eve can switch over to the Second Audio Program (SAP) channel and listen to the former president's interpretation of the movie on simulcast.
Bush's recording will not only add another dimension for the visually impaired taking in the film, but as the paper points out, is also part of a fundraising effort by non-profit RP International to "help save the School for the Blind in Van Nuys, Calif."
You can see a clip of Bush recording the simulcast on the RP International website.
Variety.com "On The Air"
By: Jon Weisman
Published: Mon, December 20, 2010, 3:34 PM
George H. W. Bush has recorded visual description of "It's a Wonderful Life" for a simulcast that will air on the SAP channel for the visually impaired when NBC broadcasts the film at 8 p.m. Friday.
The broadcast is part of a fundraising effort by RP International to save the Van Nuys, Calif.-based School for The Blind.
Fundraising Initiatives Include Online Crowdfunding Campaign and
16th Annual “The Eyes of Christmas” Television Special for the Visually Impaired
LOS ANGELES -- (December 9, 2010) – Helen Harris’ RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa) International (www.rpinternational.org) — the longest-standing non-profit organization leading the way for medical and technological advancements for the visually impaired — initiates a Holiday Season fundraising campaign in an effort to save The School for The Blind, located in Van Nuys, California. Fundraising efforts include an online crowdfunding campaign hosted at FirstGiving.com (www.firstgiving.com/RPi/Event/savetheschool) where third parties can start their own fundraising campaigns for the School. Donations can also be made directly to RPI at www.firstgiving.com/rpi. RPI intends to find 7,500 people to donate $10.00 each by December 31, 2010. In addition, funds raised by this year’s 16th Annual “The Eyes of Christmas” television special will go towards saving the School.
Renowned Philanthropist Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong to Receive 2010 Humanitarian of Vision Honor During the 40th Anniversary Presentation of the Vision Awards, September 23 in Beverly Hills
Hollywood, CA, July 13, 2010 -- The 40th Anniversary presentation of "The Vision Awards™", which will take place on Sept. 23, 2010, in Beverly Hills, will present its 2010 "Humanitarian of Vision" honor to internationally renowned doctor/medical researcher/philanthropist Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong. The announcement was made today by Helen Harris, founder of Retinitis Pigmentosa International, the presenting organization behind those awards.
40TH ANNIVERSARY PRESENTATION OF "THE VISION AWARDS" TO HONOR 2010 GOLD MEDAL WINNING OLYMPIAN STEVE HOLCOMB AND THE MAN WHO RESTORED HIS VISION, BRIAN BOXER WACHLER, MD;"The Vision Awards" Raise Funds For Medical Research To Combat Various Causes of Visual Impairment, Including Retinitis Pigmentosa and Macular Degeneration
Hollywood, CA, July 1, 2010 -- The 40th Anniversary presentation of "The Vision Awards™", set to take place on Sept. 23, 2010, in Beverly Hills, will present a special "Athlete of Vision Award" to 2010 U. S. Gold Medalist Steve Holcomb, and a "Jules Stein Living Tribute Vision Award" to Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler, the doctor who restored Holcomb's vision. These honorees were announced today by Helen Harris, founder of Retinitis Pigmentosa International, the presenting organization behind those awards.
HELPING HANDS - Vision to raise awareness
CHARITY: Woman who suffers disorder starts institution with $300.By Cindy Von Quednow, Staff WriterPosted: 08/30/2010 10:16:48 PM PDT
PHOTO Helen Harris, 73, is the founder of Retinitis Pigmentosa International, a charity that is committed to focusing attention on eye problems and to promote research, public awareness, education and human services for victims of degenerative eye diseases. (Dean Musgrove/Staff Photographer)
Helen Harris' world started closing in on her when she was 8, a condition she convinced herself was normal since she could pass an eye exam and didn't need glasses. Even as her vision worsened and she had to use a white cane to navigate the familiar streets around her home, she told herself she really wasn't blind.
Finally, years later, when two of her three sons began experiencing the same symptoms of vision loss, she came to grips with the truth. She and her boys have retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary, degenerative eye disorder that includes loss of night and peripheral vision and can lead to total blindness by middle age.
"The doctors told us there would never be a cure, and there was no point to go looking for one because it was never going to happen," recalled Harris, who is 73 and lives in Woodland Hills.
RETINITIS PIGMENTOSA INTERNATIONAL (RPI) TO PRESENT “BATMAN FOREVER” FEATURE FILM TO BLIND AUDIENCE IN “THEATREVISION,” A UNIQUE PROCESS THAT DESCRIBES ON-SCREEN ACTION FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED; Two Hundred Young Blind Olympians from Across the USA to Attend RPI’s “TheatreVision” Presentation in Hollywood on April 10th; LA DODGER LEGEND WES PARKER TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS EVENT
Hollywood, CA, APRIL 10, 2010 – The charity organization Retinitis Pigmentosa International (RPI), and its president and founder, Helen Harris, will hold a special presentation for two hundred young blind Olympians from across the USA of the Warner Bros. feature film “Batman Forever.” The film will be shown in “TheatreVision,” a unique process developed by RPI in which a motion picture’s on-screen action is described aurally (by celebrity narrators) for blind and visually impaired movie-goers. (The late actor Michael Gough, who portrayed “Alfred” in “Batman Forever” was that film’s TheatreVision narrator).
Contact : Mary Ellen Sanders (800) FIGHT-RPEmail :
Contributions from payroll deductions by servicemen and women and other federal employees help fight the world’s leading disability: blindness. Helen Harris, President of RP International is hoping a that more federal employees will support her quest for vision through the federal employee giving campaign scheduled to begin later Summer early fall 2002.
Top Stars Rally for Fighting Blindness, Sending Their Message out to 160 Million Homes on Multiple Cable Networks, December 25th, Preceded by President George Herbert Walker Bush Describing the Frank Capra Classic, 'It's A Wonderful Life' for the Blind and Vision Impaired. Broadcast Includes Eye Test for Early Detection of Visual Disorders and Degenerative Diseases
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 23, 2009 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The 15th annual "Eyes of Christmas" presentation is being telecast over multiple broadcasts, cable and satellite networks, as well as the Internet, to 160 million homes this year. Participating stars and other notables include Celine Dion, Garth Brooks, Reba McIntyre, Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman, Bob Costas, and Natalie Cole.
George Bush Sr.
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Videos are available to the press on BetaSP, DVD or HDV. To schedule free delivery of video material, call: 818.992.0631.
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Legendary LA Dodger first baseman Wes Parker, veteran film & tv actor William Atherton ("Die Hard," "Ghostbusters") and Gold Medalist Olympian Tara Lipinski were amongst the VIPs that came out to support the TheatreVision screening of DreamWorks "How To Train Your Dragon" for 200 young blind athletes on Saturday, April 9, 2011. The annual event is hosted by RP International. Sponsors included DreamWorks, Subway, Assil Eye Institute, NVision, LA Kings, and Frank Agrama of the Harmony Gold Preview House. www.rpinternational.org
Gold medal Olympian Tara Lipinski with young blind athletes in LA for a special TheatreVision screening of
DreamWorks' "How To Train Your Dragon." The film was audio described for the children by
veteran actor William Atherton ("Die Hard," "Ghostbusters").
April 14, 2011
Tara Lipinski mingling with 200 blind athletes at TheatreVision’s special charity screening of
DreamWorks’ How To Train Your Dragon at Harmony Gold Theater in Hollywood.
George H.W. Bush Narrates 'It's A Wonderful Life'
On Christmas Eve, George Bush meets George Bailey.
The former president, No. 41, lends his voice to a special broadcast of Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life," having recorded a detailed oral description of the Christmas classic for the visually impaired.
The Los Angeles Times, which first reported the story, points out that it was George H.W. who signed the Americans With Disabilities Act in 1990.
The 1946 film -- starring Jimmy Stewart as Bailey, a down-and-out man whose guardian angel visits him at Christmas -- will air on NBC Dec. 24. Bush's narration will appear via simulcast on the Second Audio Program (SAP) channel.
It's part of a fund-raising effort by RP International to help save the School for the Blind in Van Nuys, Calif., the Times said.
You can watch a clip of the former president recording his narration on the RP International website.
December 24th Press Release on PRweb with interactive Erelease
LA Times.comTop of the TicketPolitical commentary from Andrew MalcolmGeorge H.W. Bush narrates 'It's a Wonderful Life' for the visually impaired on Christmas EveDecember 22, 2010 | 7:04 amAccording to many over the years, "It's a Wonderful Life" is a wonderful holiday movie.But millions of Americans who are visually impaired can only hear the dialog of Frank Capra's 1946 black-and-white classic.No longer.This year former President George H.W. Bush (No. 41) has recorded an oral description of the entire movie. He was the president who signed the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.So this Friday evening, which just happens to be Christmas Eve, as NBC broadcasts the film nationally, anyone can click on the SAP channel and hear the one-time commander in chief's grandfatherly narration on simulcast. (It has the same happy ending.)It's part of a national fundraising effort by RP International to help save the School for the Blind in Van Nuys, Calif. According to RPI, only 7,500 people each donating only $10 would enable it to reach the financial goal. Donations possible right here.-- Andrew Malcolmhttp://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2010/12/george-h-w-bush-wonderful-life.html
On Christmas Day, the fundraising effort will then culminate with "The Eyes of Christmas," a 30-minute program airing at 6 a.m. on Ion. Celine Dion, Garth Brooks, Reba McIntyre, Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman, Bob Costas and Natalie Cole are among those who have supported the program.
HELPING HANDSVision to raise awareness
CHARITY: Woman who suffers disorder starts institution with $300.By Cindy Von Quednow, Staff WriterPosted: 08/30/2010 10:16:48 PM PDTPHOTOHelen Harris, 73, is the founder of Retinitis Pigmentosa International, a charity that is committed to focusing attention on eye problems and to promote research, public awareness, education and human services for victims of degenerative eye diseases. (Dean Musgrove/Staff Photographer) Helen Harris' world started closing in on her when she was 8, a condition she convinced herself was normal since she could pass an eye exam and didn't need glasses.
Even as her vision worsened and she had to use a white cane to navigate the familiar streets around her home, she told herself she really wasn't blind.
Finally, years later, when two of her three sons began experiencing the same symptoms of vision loss, she came to grips with the truth.
She and her boys have retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary, degenerative eye disorder that includes loss of night and peripheral vision and can lead to total blindness by middle age.
The doctors' grim declaration spurred Harris to found Retinitis Pigmentosa International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of RP and other degenerative eye diseases and funding medical research for a cure.
Started with just $300 in seed money, RP International has raised millions of dollars to benefit those suffering from degenerative eye diseases. According to the National Institutes of Health, RP affects 1 in 4,000 people in the U.S.
The group also hosts the Vision Awards, now in its 40th year, to honor achievements in technology and vision. This year's event on Sept.23 will honor Apple CEO Steve Jobs, U.S. Olympic bobsledder Steven Holcomb and Dr. Brian Boxer Wachler, the ophthalmologist who restored Holcomb's vision from near-blindness.
The show will be broadcast Oct.29 on ION Television and local networks, including KCOP (Channel 13).
Harris' goal is to raise public awareness of RP, including early diagnosis and treatment. She has testified before Congress and met with President George H.W. Bush, who later narrated a movie for TheatreVision, a program that fully describes films for the visually impaired.
"Helen works practically around the clock. She is probably the most driven person I have ever met," said Christopher Dill, Harris' executive assistant. "She expects everyone else around her to be equally driven and I try to the best of my ability to keep up with that."
Harris and Dill run the organization in Harris' home. They operate a hotline for people across the country dealing with sight loss and also run a school for the blind in Van Nuys.
Among those who benefited from Harris' support was Fabiola Fragoso, who was diagnosed with RP at age 17. At the time, Fragoso lived in Van Nuys and Harris helped her cope with the diagnosis.
"Helen was very influential in my life as far as helping me acquire a better attitude about sight loss," said Fragoso, now 48 and living in Roy, Utah. "The part I really respect about Helen is that she is not only looking to find a cure, but she's also very interested in the human aspect of the disease."
Legally blind, Harris details her struggles with RP on her organization's website in the hope it will help and inspire others facing similar challenges.
"One of the honorees at a Vision Awards said, 'Helen put a face on blindness,"' Harris said. "I did that on purpose, I had to put somebody out there. Anything can be done, if you keep looking hard enough."
Bush, Sr. Narrates “It’s a Wonderful Life” on NBC in
RP International’s TheatreVision™ for the Visually Impaired on Christmas Eve
— Bush, Sr. Public Service Announcement for RPI and TheatreVision™ Airs on Local NBC Affiliates —
LOS ANGELES -- (December 17, 2010) – Helen Harris’ RP (Retinitis Pigmentosa) International (RPI) — a non-profit organization serving the visually impaired — announces the first national airing of “It’s a Wonderful Life” in TheatreVision™, audio described by former President George Herbert Walker Bush. NBC will air the special nationally on December 24th at 8:00 p.m. ET. A public service announcement for RPI and TheatreVision that features Bush, Sr. will also be airing on NBC affiliates, including KNBC-TV in Los Angeles. The PSA can be seen at www.rpinternational.org.
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