Looking for the Next Great Humanitarian

Two years ago, a generous gift from David and Victoria Chang created The Chang Humanitarian Award, a new way to bring attention to the great sight-givers in our midst.  The goal of the award was to honor and recognize outstanding humanitarian work with a focus on cataract blindness and disability. In its two previous honorees, Drs. Alan Crandall and Richard Litwin, the Chang Humanitarian Award has established a blueprint for the caliber of philanthropist it will recognize. On July 15th, the ASCRS Foundation opened nominations for the 2020 award. As ASCRS members and others in the ophthalmic contemplate who to nominate this year, it’s instructive to look back at the two superstars that have been honored thus far.

As Dr. I. Howard Fine explained at the time of the inaugural Chang Award “If you aspire to be the best physician possible, and the best human being possible, you need look no further for a role model than Alan Crandall.” Dr. Crandall has centered his around bringing humanitarian aid to remote areas and underserved people around the world. The list of places he’s served speaks volumes to his dedication: Ghana, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya, Nepal, India, China, Guatemala, Egypt, Micronesia, Tonga, Rwanda, Haiti, and Cuba, as well as domestic efforts in Utah. Dr. Crandall’s service has been recognized internationally and he remains an inspiration for many young doctors exploring humanitarian care for the first time.

For Dr. Richard Litwin, the 2019 award recipient, service has been a quiet, life-long undertaking. Dr. Chang himself explained “Dick personifies the unsung hero—someone who neither seeks nor receives recognition for a lifetime of great deeds. Indeed, very few will have heard of this ophthalmologist in solo private practice, who’s had tremendous impact on the treatment of cataract blindness in the developing world.” Dr. Litwin began his service in a familiar way, as part of a high-volume cataract surgery mission trip to India in 1982. He later transitioned to providing on-the-ground physician education, and then served as a key diplomat advocating internationally on behalf of humanitarian eye care organizations. What has set Dr. Litwin’s service apart has been his cultivation of long-term friendships and mentorships in the communities he has served.

With these honorees, the Chang Humanitarian Award has honored both a household name and an unsung hero of humanitarian eye care. What great sight giver will be honored next? The Foundation needs ASCRS members’ assistance to identify worthy candidates who’ve demonstrate a commitment to service and volunteerism. Members and others in the ophthalmic industry are called upon to nominate ophthalmologists doing exceptional humanitarian work in the fight to alleviate global blindness. The process for selecting the 2020 honoree opened on July 15, and nominations will be accepted through September 15, 2019.

To find out more about the ASCRS Foundation Chang Humanitarian Award and to submit a nomination visit www.ascrsfoundation.org/changaward

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