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On Tuesday, December 1 — Giving Tuesday 2015 — Helen Keller International hosted a FRIENDraiser at SideBAR in New York City.

View images from the event here.

Dozens of friends and supporters came out to hear entrepreneur Ken Adams, CEO of GorillaKilla, discuss his journey to making a difference through his company’s partnership with Helen Keller Intl and our programs that treat trachoma, the leading cause of preventable blindness worldwide

In just the past year, Ken has gone from having no idea what trachoma was to working with HKI program staff on a customized product to help some of the thousands suffering from it, as well as a champion of HKI’s efforts in preventing the disease.He has described this ongoing journey as moving form “vanity to humanity” and wants to encourage everyone to leverage their ability, large or small, make a positive difference in our world. 

The evening provided great information and inspiration for everyone:

The Challenge

  • An estimated 84 million people worldwide are currently living with trachoma, even though it is preventable and curable
  • Women are 2-3x more likely to have trachiasis, the extreemly painful blinding stage of trachoma, because of their role as primary caregivers of children, who are more vulnerable to repeated infections.
  • While trachoma was eliminated in the US in the 1950s, it is still common in more than 50 countries in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Australia and the Middle East. Africa is the most affected continent.
  • Trachoma is found in areas with poor access to clean water and sanitation, especially rural and impoverished areas, where poor hygiene, water shortages and inadequate sanitation facilities are common.  

A Brighter Future IS Achievable and Within Sight 

  • The global elimination target for trachoma is 2020 and something that is very achievable
  • We know what to do: trachoma can be prevented, controlled and eliminated by improving access to clean water and educating communities on better hygiene practices, as well as making sure preventative antibiotics are available and distributed to communities most in need.
  • HKI has trained thousands of doctors in trachiasis surgery and is working to improve access to help meet the demand in remote and rural communities. Each surgery costs just $40-60 per person. 

 Join the Movement Toward Trachoma Elimination

  • Spread the word: share information about this event and trachoma facts on social media and with your networks. Information is power and spreading the word helps bring issues like trachoma control into the larger conversation. Follow HKI on TwitterFacebook and Instagram
  • Ken Adams advises, “Make it your passion to educate others. Make sure the company you work for is at the very least aware of trachoma whenever choosing a cause and how passionate you are about it. If you don’t need to work, easy to write a fat check; that still works!”
  • Stay in touch with Helen Keller to learn more about how you can get involved and make a difference.