March 2, 2012

Diabetic eye disease research to benefit from annual March Hoops to Beat Blindness event

Brendan as a toddler
Brendan Hepner

ANN ARBOR, MI – Vision loss is a major complication of diabetes and it’s estimated that, if current trends continue, as many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050. The rapid growth of diabetes-related eye disease convinced organizer Myron Hepner to dedicate proceeds from this year’s March Hoops to Beat Blindness (MHBB) to research that could help people with diabetes maintain their vision.

On March 15 and 16, Mr. Hepner will collect “pledges” while he watches every game of the first round of the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament at Damon’s Grill (3150 Boardwalk) in Ann Arbor. The restaurant will donate a portion of its dining receipts to the fundraiser and, this year, will host Sports Talk 1050 WTKA as they broadcast live during the two-day event. MHBB has raised more than $28,000 for research at the Kellogg Eye Center since Hepner started the vision fundraiser in 2007.

Diabetes affects 25.8 million people in the United States and diabetic eye disease is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults aged 20-74 years. The most common form of diabetic eye disease—diabetic retinopathy—causes damage to blood vessels in the retina. When these blood vessels are damaged, they may leak blood or grow fragile, brush-like branches and scar tissue which can blur or distort the visual images the retina sends to the brain. People then may see dark spots, flashing lights or rings around lights. They also may have difficulty reading or experience blurred vision or a sudden loss of vision in one eye. Any of these symptoms requires a call to your ophthalmologist.

And, years ago, it was a Kellogg ophthalmologist who treated Hepner’s son, Brendan, for retinoblastoma—a cancer of the eye—when he was only 9 months old. Brendan is now a healthy 9-year-old who returns to Kellogg for annual checkups and Hepner is a grateful father who created MHBB to thank those at Kellogg who treated his son.

You can donate to MHBB 2012 in one of three ways:

  1. Visit and complete the online donation form.
  2. Visit Damon's and request that your dining receipt go toward the fundraiser. Over the two-day event, Damon's will contribute 20 percent of all dining receipts to the fundraiser.
  3. Visit Damon's and purchase a paper basketball. Starting February 13, Damon's will sell paper basketballs in gold ($10), silver ($5) and blue ($1). Donors can write their names on the basketballs, which will be posted in the restaurant.


Written by Aimee S. Bergquist


Last Modified: Monday, 28-Mar-2016 13:11:51 EDT