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The Greenberg Prize:
End Blindness 2020

Like so many others who have had a normal life stripped away or never granted, the blind need a village. Sue has been mine. But blindness is also its own unique world. Hearing, taste, touch, smell, movement — they all play a key role in the human experience. But if you will forgive me a prejudiced point of view, sight is the true miracle of creation.


To me, the women and men we are gathered here to celebrate are the true pathfinders. Like the great navigators of yore, they have sailed into the void of darkness and are now emerging out the other side armed with charts rich with latitude and longitude. Passage before was impossible. Passage soon will be impossible to deny. These new navigators, these unfolders of the deep mysteries of vision and of the pathways to healing it, will be giving us glimpses of their discoveries as events move along this evening. Prepare please to be amazed.

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Outstanding Achievement Award Recipients

With these words, Sandy Greenberg opened the December 14, 2020 End Blindness awards ceremony, an unprecedented event featuring an all-star cast of scientific, cultural, business, and political leaders and culminating with the awarding of $3 million in prizes to doctors and researchers from around the world who have been leading the fight to rid the world of blindness.

 

The Greenberg Prize winners were originally to be honored at the United States Supreme Court, a venue arranged by Sandy’s dear friend and longtime neighbor, the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Covid put an end to an in-person event. Instead, the hour-long End Blindness 2020 awards ceremony was streamed worldwide and brought global attention to a crusade that will not cease until, in Sandy’s words, “all God's children can not only feel the sun shining on their faces, but also witness with their own eyes its rising and its setting.”

 

In his tribute to the Prize winners, Jerry Speyer — co-founder and chairman of Tishman Speyer and Sandy’s third college roommate, along with Art Garfunkel — cited Winston Churchill’s famous definition of a positive thinker: “The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.”

 

“That’s Sandy,” Speyer told the global audience. “He is the ultimate positive thinker. With the Greenberg Prize, Sandy has shone a light on his fellow positive thinkers around the world. Each of tonight’s honorees saw the invisible, felt the intangible, and achieved the impossible.”

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"The prizes this evening are being awarded to those researchers and scientists who have made the greatest progress toward eradicating this ancient scourge. But this evening is not solely about the blind. These prizes are also being presented on behalf of the parents of a child born blind, who know that their son or daughter will never see their faces. 

These prizes are also being presented on behalf of the parents of a child born blind, who know that their son or daughter will never see their faces.

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They are in recognition of those whose aging parents are slipping into the endless grayness of advanced macular degeneration, the families of those blinded by trauma or limited to menial work by their inability to negotiate a sighted world. These prizes are also on behalf of the loved ones of those who lost their vision to disease just as they were setting off on their adult years - me, for example. Life was wonderful one day; seemingly, in the next few days, it was undone. I watched Sandy’s anguish close up, and I saw and inevitably was an integral part of his almost superhuman efforts to rejoin a world that he feared he had been denied. Blindness is, of course, a physical malady first and foremost; by definition, the blind can’t see. But blindness is also a social condition: blindness impacts not just those who lost or are rapidly losing or never had their vision, it impact those of us who love and support them, as well. On behalf of them all — the blind, their loved ones, and the researchers working tirelessly to end blindness now — this evening is dedicated." 

SUSAN GREENBERG

    co-hosting the online presentation

    of the End Blindness prize.

Recipients

Visionary Prize Winners