April 25, 2014
Student raises thousands for crucial blindness researchHave you ever fundraised over $10,000?
Not many students can say they have accomplished that feat. Griffin Pinkow, a junior at Susquehanna, however, has raised approximately $13,000 to donate to the Foundation for Fighting Blindness this year.
Pinkow was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, more commonly known as RP, between the ages of 12 and 13. When he was younger, Pinkow participated in a number of sports, namely baseball. He said: "At one point I couldn't see the ball come off the bat anymore. I'd be in the outfield running one way and the ball would be going the other way. It was then that we thought, 'Something's not right with Griffin.'"
Pinkow said the disease has a gradual affect, with the disease affecting the peripheral part of a person's vision until it gradually shrinks in and results in complete blindness.
He said: "It's not rapid. What I could have seen freshman year, maybe I can't see now. But you don't realize it because it's such a slow process."
In order to raise awareness, Pinkow, in coordination with Enactus, brought a series of events to campus that helped to fundraise the money that will eventually be donated to Foundation for Fighting Blindness.
The fundraiser consisted of four different events, which were commonly referred to as Griffin's Vision Quest. The first event, Pinkow said, was similar to an assembly. A spokesperson from the Foundation for Fighting Blindness came and spoke to over 80 students in Faylor Lecture Hall about the foundation and its mission. Pinkow and his father also had the opportunity to speak about their direct experience with the disease.
The second event, "Dining in the Dark," was a simulation that gave students the opportunity to experience what it would be like to do an everyday task such as eating if they were blind. The third event was a challenge event. It consisted of students being blind-folded and competing in a series of athletic events, including miniature golf and basketball.
The final event was a walk held in the Field House on March 16. The event included a walk around the indoor track and a series of raffles. Prizes included Under Armour clothing for men and women, a weekend stay at a ranch and a $250 gift certificate for a tattoo from an artist in New York City. This event alone raised approximately $1,500.
To continue fundraising throughout the summer, Pinkow will help host two events in California. The first will be another "Dining in the Dark" event. The second will be another walk, which will be held at the Angels' Stadium in Anaheim, Calif. on June 16.
Once back in Selinsgrove for the Fall 2014 semester, Pinkow would like to bring awareness to the Selinsgrove community by participating in the Market Street Festival and having activities such as blindfolded miniature golf available along with informational pamphlets.
Through his work with Foundation for Fighting Blindness, Pinkow has been asked to speak at a number of functions. Most recently, he traveled to the Pierre Hotel in New York City on April 8 to speak at a dinner event titled "Banking on a Cure." The event, which consisted of a live and silent auction, raised approximately $1 million for the foundation.
Pinkow had the opportunity to speak at the event. He said: "[I talked about] how I became visually impaired and how I dealt with it. It wasn't going from being an amazing athlete to being just a normal teenager. It wasn't about how I wasn't going to be able to drive or play sports. It was more about how am I going to deal with going step by step into the darkness."
Pinkow is still accepting donations for his cause. He said that the ultimate goal is to raise $25,000. To learn more or to donate, visit fightblindness.org/griffinsvisionquest.
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