It’s no secret that legendary linebacker Ray Lewis is one of the most important player on the Baltimore Ravens team. But the 14-year veteran is just as important to the Baltimore community. That’s why Lewis and his mother, Sunseria “Buffy” Smith, were both honored with Visionary Awards by the Foundation Fighting Blindness on Nov. 30 at M&T Bank Stadium for their leadership and generosity in the Baltimore community.  Lewis is founder of The Ray Lewis Foundation, which, among other things, is dedicated to enhancing the lives of at-risk youth.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by the Foundation Fighting Blindness. I’m thrilled to be connected to such a great organization whose main mission is restoring sight. I admire the Foundation’s commitment and the progress they have made in helping so many,” said Lewis. “I couldn’t be more proud to receive a Visionary Award from an organization that itself is so visionary, leading the way through funding retinal degenerative research.” 

Lewis has and always will credits his mother, vice president of The Ray Lewis Foundation, for instilling his sense of civic duty. Smith almost single-handedly organizes and oversees programs that support children and families in need. One of the programs that she oversees is an annual Thanksgiving Turkey Give-Away to unfortunate families in Baltimore City.

“I had a vision when Ray was still in my womb that he was going to carry a great purpose in life, so I know a little something about being a visionary,” Smith said . “It’s truly an honor to be celebrated for your contributions, but Ray knows how much he is needed in the community and it will always be his vision to take care of those who need him.”

A few other Baltimore Ravens players were also present in support of Lewis, including Haloti Ngata and Jarette Johnson. Besides Lewis and Smith, local businessman David Cordish was also honored with a Visionary Award. Cordish, chairman of The Cordish Companies, is known for revitalizing depressed areas, such as Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and has helped improve some of the nation’s most worn down urban communities.

“It’s an absolute honor to receive a Visionary Award from the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Hard work and focus are integral to any significant endeavor, and the Foundation Fighting Blindness embodies these qualities,” said Cordish. “I can’t think of a better cause to support than giving the gift of vision.”

The mission of the Foundation Fighting Blindness (www.FightBlindness.org) is to drive research that will provide preventions, treatments and cures for people affected by retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, Usher syndrome, and the entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases.  Since its inception in 1971, the Foundation has raised more than $400 million.

 

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor