The Foundation Fighting Blindness, a national nonprofit that drives sight-saving research, honored Allegiance Retail Services President and Chief Operating Officer Michael Stolarz at the 3rd Annual ‘Una Visión Para El Futuro’ (A Vision for the Future) on Thursday, Jan. 16. With 500 people in attendance, the benefit at Terrace on the Park in Flushing Meadows Park raised $466,000 toward research into preventions, treatments and cures for blinding retinal degenerative diseases like macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa that affect more than 10 million Americans, young and old.
Chairing the event for the third year was Jason Ferreira, of New Hyde Park, NY, a Foundation Fighting Blindness board member and Foodtown vice president and general manager who knows the impact of vision loss. His 3-year-old son JJ has a rare genetic disease called Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), which is characterized by severe loss of vision at birth. Determined to help advance research toward treatments and a cure, Jason, a first generation Dominican American, and his wife Jennifer have been passionate Foundation advocates since JJ’s diagnosis in 2010, raising hundreds of thousands for innovative work that could save their son’s sight.
“We’re thrilled to recognize the support and leadership of Michael Stolarz,” said Ferreira. “Progress in gene therapy and stem cell-based clinical trials gives us hope for a brighter future for JJ and the millions of other families in America affected by blinding retinal diseases. Leaders coming together for this important cause is a true testament to the giving spirit of our industry.”
Visionary Award Honoree Michael Stolarz, of New Jersey, has served as President and COO of Allegiance Retail Services since 2011. With more than 40 years of experience in the supermarket industry, Stolarz has held senior executive positions at Twin County Grocers, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company and most recently, Grocery Haulers, Inc. In addition to supporting A Vision for the Future for the last two years, Mr. Stolarz’s community involvement includes supporting organizations such as the Deborah Heart and Lung Center, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and St. Joseph’s Food Academy Foundation. He has also been honored with the Cystic Fibrosis Breath of Life Award and was named Industry Leader Man of the Year by the New Jersey Food Council.
Over the last three years, A Vision for the Future has raised more than $1.1 million toward the Foundation’s sight-saving research. The evening’s Visionary Sponsors included Acosta Grocery; Advantage Sales and Marketing; Bozzuto’s Inc.; C&S Produce; C&S Wholesale Grocers; CBA Industries, Inc.; Earthbound Farms; Jennifer & Jason Ferreira; Florida’s Natural; JOH; Joshen Paper & Packaging; Key Food; Kraft Foods; Pepsi Co. Warehouse Sales; Porky Products and RDD Associates.