The Foundation Fighting Blindness, a national nonprofit focused on sight-saving research, will present its Visionary Award to William Ballhaus, President and CEO of SRA International, headquartered in Fairfax, at the 5th Annual Northern Virginia Dining in the Dark. The event, happening at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, January 22, at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner, will give guests a unique glimpse into the lives of the visually impaired. It will also benefit the Foundation’s research into preventions, treatments and cures for blinding retinal degenerative diseases like macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa that affect more than 10 million Americans, young and old.
Dining in the Dark is a distinctive sensory awareness experience in which guests participate in an unforgettable dining adventure, in complete darkness. To get first-hand insight into the challenges of the blind community, diners will wear special light-blocking masks and eat their entrée using only their heightened senses of smell, sound, taste and touch. Created in Germany, Dining in the Dark is a one-of-a kind concept that has been enjoyed by many people across Europe before moving to America in 2005.
“Dining in the Dark is an opportunity to give people a better understanding of the many obstacles those with low to no vision face on a daily basis.,” said National Trustee and Northern Virginia Chapter President Davida Luehrs, of Reston, Virginia, who is chairing the event with her husband James. She is legally blind due to retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a genetic disease that also affects her daughter and is characterized by night blindness and a progressive loss of peripheral vision. “The cutting edge research being funded by the Foundation has already restored some vision in patients, which gives us great hope that treatments and cures are in sight.”
Visionary Award Honoree William “Bill” Ballhaus, was appointed president and CEO of SRA International, an information technology solutions and professional services company, in July 2011. Prior to working at SRA, Ballhaus was CEO, president and a director of DynCorp International, a global government services provider. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors at SRA, he is also on the board for the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, TechAmerica and the UCLA Anderson School Board of Visitors. Bill is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. With the presentation of its Visionary Award, the Foundation is recognizing his leadership in global operations and support of the fight against blindness.
This year’s honorary chairs include 2011 Visionary Award Honoree, Walt Havenstein, who is the retired former CEO of SAIC, and David Thompson, the Foundation’s 2013 Visionary Award Honoree and president and CEO of Orbital Sciences Corporation.
Individual tickets for Dining in the Dark are $500 and sponsorships begin at $5,000. For ticket and sponsorship information, contact Heather Medina at HMedina@fightblindness.org or (410) 423-0625, or visit www.FightBlindness.org/DiningInTheDark.