May 8, 2014, IOWA CITY, IA (ISN) – The University of Iowa Stephen A. Wynn Institute for Vision Research announced that Lazier Partners Racing and supporters have partnered to raise awareness for the institute’s research by providing the lead sponsorship of an Indianapolis 500 race car.

Buddy Lazier, the 1996 Indy 500 winner, will drive the No. 91 University of Iowa Stephen A. Wynn Institute for Vision Research Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone car in the 98th running of the 500-mile race.

The Indianapolis 500 is one of the most prestigious motorsports events in the world, held annually on Memorial Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Practice for this year’s Indianapolis 500 begins on May 11, qualifications are held on May 17 and 18, and the race takes place on May 25.

“Thank you to Lazier Partners Racing and Wynn Institute Advisory Board Member Brian Walker for creating this incredible opportunity to share with the millions of people who follow the Indy 500 the important research our scientists are conducting to help patients with vision loss,” said Dr. Edwin Stone, director of the UI Stephen A. Wynn Institute for Vision Research.

Jacqueline Lazier, the 12-year-old daughter of Buddy and Kara Lazier, was born with a rare eye disorder called aniridia, which is characterized by a complete or partial absence of the colored part of the eye.  Aniridia can cause reduction in visual acuity and increased sensitivity to light.  Aniridia, combined with glaucoma, has caused Jacqueline to lose vision in her right eye.  The Wynn Institute is conducting research on aniridia and glaucoma as well as other inherited eye diseases.

“Our support of the Wynn Institute is personal to our family and right in line with the goals and purpose of our team,” said Lazier Partners Racing co-owner, and Buddy’s father, Bob Lazier.  “We want to win on the track, and we want to help people achieve their goals every day off the track.”

Race enthusiast Brian Walker, CEO of Herman Miller—a major manufacturer of office furniture and home furnishings based in Michigan—sits on the Wynn Institute Advisory Board.  His son, Sam Walker, was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease.  The Wynn Institute is working toward promising treatments and, ultimately, a cure for retinitis pigmentosa.  In addition to partnering with Lazier Partners Racing to make the Indy 500 car possible, Brian Walker also sponsors an annual golf event to raise money for the institute’s research (scrambleforsight.com).

In honor of Jacqueline Lazier and Sam Walker, longtime UI supporters Gary and Cammy Seamans have committed $100,000 to support the institute’s research fund.  “We hope to inspire others to give to the incredibly important, life-changing research that is taking place at the institute,” said Gary Seamans.  “The Indy 500 is an opportunity to tell Jacqueline and Sam’s stories, and to bring hope to other patients around the world.”  Others interested in supporting the Wynn Institute can visit www.buddysdrive.org.

About the UI Stephen A. Wynn Institute for Vision Research

The University of Iowa Stephen A. Wynn Institute for Vision Research was created to accelerate the eradication of heritable human blindness through interdisciplinary research, education and clinical care. The institute’s mission is to develop effective treatments for all forms of genetic blindness, ranging from very common conditions like age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma that affect millions of people worldwide, to individually rare but collectively common disorders like retinitis pigmentosa, Stargardt disease, Best disease, Usher syndrome and Leber congenital amaurosis. The institute was named in honor of Mr. Wynn’s $25 million gift commitment, which has significantly accelerated the organization’s mission to prevent and cure blinding eye diseases that affect millions of people worldwide.

About the University of Iowa Foundation

The University of Iowa Foundation’s mission is to advance the University of Iowa and fulfill the aspirations of those it serves. The university’s dedicated contributors fund a broad array of needs, from student scholarships, breakthrough research and life-changing health care to innovative facilities, community outreach and global education.

The UI and UI Foundation are conducting a historic, comprehensive $1.7 billion fundraising campaign, For Iowa. Forever More: The Campaign for the University of Iowa, which will secure the UI’s status as a world-class institution for future generations.

The University of Iowa Foundation is the preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the University of Iowa. For more information about the foundation and the campaign, visit the foundation website at http://www.uifoundation.org.