A Clearer Future
Sam and Vivian Hardage live in Fairbanks Ranch and say there’s no other place they’d rather be. Sam is a business entrepreneur in real estate and hotel development. He has a degree in engineering from the Air Force Academy and an MBA from Harvard. When he moved the corporate headquarters more than 25 years ago from Wichita, KS to La Jolla, Rancho Santa Fe soon became home. Vivian has a master’s degree in counseling from Emporia State University and has been an educator, counselor, and sales professional.
They’ve raised their family here. They’ve also raised research funding and awareness to cure hereditary childhood blindness and vision disorders. “Imagine hearing the news that your child has a disease for which there is no cure, no treatment, and no hope because there are no scientists anywhere in the world researching the condition,” shared Vivian. That’s what they were told when their son, Chase, was born with a rare vision disorder called Ocular Albinism Type I. The Hardages had the talents to make a difference and co-founded The Vision of Children Foundation in 1991. It is now the foremost nonprofit organization in the world supporting research for Ocular Albinism and related genetic vision disorders.
Names: Sam and Vivian Hardage
Community: Fairbanks Ranch
Hobbies: Snow skiing and spending time with family in Deer Valley, traveling, politics, and staying healthy
The foundation’s mission is to cure hereditary childhood blindness and other vision disorders, and to improve the lives of visually impaired individuals and families. Their primary goal is funding innovative research focused on treatments and cures for Ocular Albinism with leading institutions, including partner researchers at the UCLA Stein Eye Institute and the San Raffaele Scientific Institute in Italy. Vivian described, for example, how foundation-funded UCLA scientists are exploring the byproducts of patients’ own stem cells to replace defective DNA.
“We believe communication between families, educators, healthcare professionals, and researchers who care for these children is critical,” she said. The foundation’s education and support network inspires families worldwide. The Vision Heroes program spotlights children with vision disorders living extraordinary lives, including an aspiring Olympic gymnast and an award-winning artist. The foundation’s Project Vision Aid helps kids who need handheld video magnifiers and iPads. “This is a particularly exciting time,” said Vivian, “since gene therapy and stem cell therapies, which seemed but a distant dream when we started the foundation, are becoming a reality.” Sam and Vivian’s work, together with their supporters, researchers, and families, will bring clear vision to millions of kids around the world.