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for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

AFB Announces 2012 Helen Keller Achievement Award Winners

New York (May 30, 2012)—On the evening of June 7, 2012, Donald A. Goldsmith, Vornado Realty Trust, CBS Television Network, the Delta Gamma Foundation and Rocco Fiorentino will all be honored with the American Foundation for the Blind's (AFB) prestigious Helen Keller Achievement Award for continuing Keller's extraordinary legacy to leave the world a better place than she found it. The black tie gala will be held at the New York Marriott Downtown, marking the 17th annual Helen Keller Achievement Awards ceremony.

"Helen Keller believed the power of effecting change is within ourselves," said Carl R. Augusto, AFB's President and CEO. "The 2012 award winners have expanded possibilities for millions of people all over the world, and we are thrilled to recognize their important work."

About the 2012 Helen Keller Achievement Award recipients:

Donald A. Goldsmith has been the legal adviser for AFB for over 40 years. He is a Senior Partner at the International law firm Holland & Knight LLP and a member of the firm's Private Wealth Services Group. Don is a graduate of Bowdoin College and Columbia University School of Law, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. In addition to representing AFB, Don has been legal counsel to two of the largest private foundations in the United States: the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Wallace Foundation. He is a trustee of Bowdoin College and a trustee and member of the Executive Committee of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Don is also a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and an Academician of the International Academy of Estate and Trust Lawyers.

Vornado is one of the largest owners and managers of commercial real estate in the United States with a portfolio over 100 million square feet, primarily located in the New York and Washington, DC areas. Vornado's core businesses include New York Office and Retail Properties; Washington, DC Office Properties; and, Retail Properties in the northeast states, California and Puerto Rico.

The CBS Television Network has voluntarily and continuously provided video description to its viewers since 2002. The popular CBS programs "Criminal Minds," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "NCIS" and "NCIS: Los Angeles," along with all movies and mini-series are now just as exciting for visually impaired audiences. CBS is a television industry leader committed to making some of its most popular programs accessible for those viewers who are blind or visually impaired.

The Delta Gamma Foundation has provided generous support to AFB for over 60 years. In recent years, the Foundation has sponsored AFB's Leadership Conference by providing scholarships to graduate students to attend the conference, meet mentors, and engage with future colleagues. Additionally, local chapters of Delta Gamma alumnae and current students volunteer their time to AFB through participation in special events. At the heart of the Delta Gamma Foundation's philanthropic efforts is their Service for Sight program which provides funding to schools and organizations that serve people who are blind or visually impaired. In addition to grants and scholarships, the Foundation offers leadership programs for students in service.

Rocco Fiorentino, 15, is not only an accomplished jazz singer and pianist, he is also an award-winning humanitarian advocating for children who are blind or visually impaired. His greatest gift is his positive outlook on life and the impact he has made on thousands of people. Blind, due to premature birth, Rocco is the Ambassador of The Little Rock Foundation, named for him, and he serves as an educator and lobbyist. He is responsible for $1.2 million being dedicated to Braille services and education in the State of New Jersey and saving the jobs of 50 employees, valued at $611,000, at the NJ Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Rocco is also the inspiration behind a resolution signed into law in 2009 in the states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania stating that every October will be named "Blindness Awareness Month." Today there are 44 states participating in this nationwide campaign. Rocco will perform as the finale of the award presentations.

Dinner Chairpersons for the 2012 Helen Keller Achievement Awards include Martin D. Franks, Executive Vice President, Planning, Policy and Government Relations, CBS Corporation; Susan Ward Mink, AFB Board of Trustees; Michael Ross, Chief Talent and Rewards Officer, HP; and as Honorary Chair, J. W. Marriott, Jr., Chairman and CEO, Marriott International.

The Helen Keller Achievement Awards were established by AFB in 1994 to acknowledge Helen Keller's extraordinary efforts and promote the notable achievements of individuals and organizations that have improved the quality of life for all people who are blind or visually impaired.

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About AFB

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that expands possibilities for people with vision loss. AFB's priorities include broadening access to technology; elevating the quality of information and tools for the professionals who serve people with vision loss; and promoting independent and healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their families with relevant and timely resources. Headquartered in New York, AFB is proud to house the Helen Keller Archives and honor the more than 40 years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly with AFB.


John Mackin
AFB Communications

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