A visionary has sight for a cause, Allison Bradford Gorrie can relate. She may be visually impaired, but Allison sees the impact of charity pristinely.
Born with a birth defect that causes low vision, Allison, 16, has adapted to blindness and is a lifetime patient of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Ophthalmology. Not wanting her impairment to deter her from teenaged independence, she is learning to use bioptic driving glasses and other visual aids with the help of the UAB Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation. As a thank you, she created Songs for Sight, a one-time musical event designed to raise money for UAB’s Department of Ophthalmology and the UAB Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation.
Enabling the partnership of the UAB Department of Ophthalmology, the Eye Sight Foundation of Alabama and community volunteers, Allison made Songs for Sight a successful benefit concert. Performances from several musical artists, including Grace Potter, Drew Mays and the Red Mountain Theatre Performing Ensemble, and a surprise appearance from Condoleezza Rice were some of the concert’s highlights. With over 600 attendees at Songs for Sight, Allison helped the audience to understand the challenges of vision impairment with the creative use of low vision glasses.
The extensive work that went into Songs for Sight reaped massive benefits. Allison’s fundraising efforts will vastly impact the low vision community in Alabama and worldwide. Half of the funds raised will be used to support research purposes at UAB Optic Nerve Imaging Center to develop imaging of the retina and analyze a variety of ocular, neurologic and systemic conditions. This type of optics research will now have the opportunity to improve the lives of people suffering from diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, retinal degeneration and glaucoma. The UAB Center or Low Vision Rehabilitation will use the other half of the fundraising money to create a support group, expand the center’s operational needs, and develop assistive technology for young adults, which some insurance plans do not generally cover for the low vision community.
Allison’s commitment to the improvement of the low vision community helped Songs for Songs raise $420,000 for her cause. The success of this event demonstrates Allison’s indomitable spirit and how she approaches life with a positive attitude toward making a difference.