Songs for Sight was founded in October 2006 by Alie B. Gorrie, a teenager living with low vision, as a way for other children and young adults with severe visual impairment across Alabama to hear “yes you can”.  This unique partnership between Alie B. Gorrie, the UAB Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation, the UAB Department of Ophthalmology and the EyeSight Foundation of Alabama is committed to educating and inspiring children and their parents about the challenges and opportunities facing individuals with severe visual impairment.

Songs for Sight events have raised over $840,000 to support activities benefiting children and young adults with low vision.  These funds have been used to underwrite support groups providing an opportunity for children and their parents to network with other families in order to share experiences and interact with other children facing similar challenges.   These events always include an educational, peer support and recreational component, like ice skating, overnight camping, or obstacle courses.

In addition to support groups, funds are also used to provide electronic video magnifiers, orientation and mobility services and bioptic driving devices for eligible children whose families cannot afford these services.   Electronic Video Magnifiers allow children to enlarge objects up to 131 times, enabling them to read, write, complete homework or even see their loves ones’ faces clearly for the first time.

In an effort to improve understanding and treatment of eye diseases that can cause visual impairment, funds have been used to purchase advanced imaging technology for the study of the eye at the cellular level.

Sight Savers applauds the commitment and passion of Alie B., Dr. Dawn DeCarlo and Songs for Sight and appreciates everything this innovative partnership has accomplished to raise awareness and to educate the community about the issue of low vision. We are honored to recognize their work through the presentation of the inaugural Sight Savers America Hall Thompson Hero for Sight Award.

2014 Artist:  Jeff Hanson (1993-2020)

Sadly, Jeffrey Owen Hanson (1993-2020) passed away on December 20, 2020, due to a brain tumor associated with his genetic condition, neurofibromatosis. He was 27.

Jeff was a philanthropic artist from Overland Park, KS. He was visually impaired from an optic nerve tumor (nick-named CLOD).  The tumor caused severe vision loss in 2005, requiring chemotherapy and radiation.  Despite his low vision, Jeff saw well enough to continue creating brilliant artwork—including the commissioned piece for Sight Savers America, a “Sight for Sore Eyes.”

A self-taught artist from age 12, Jeff couldn’t drive a Daytona race car, but he effortlessly applied broad strokes of vibrant color to canvas in what became an unmistakable signature style.  Inspired by travel, Jeff’s heavily textured artwork hangs in the homes of art collectors across the globe—including Sir Elton John, Warren Buffett and Susan Sarandon.  Jeff’s commissions include paintings for Fortune 500 corporations, hospitals and private collectors.

A rich spirit of philanthropy is also woven throughout Jeff’s story.  Upon his death, he had painted and donated more than $6.5 MILLION dollars in acrylic canvases to over 200 charitable causes since 2006—changing the world through art.  Jeff was awarded both “Young Philanthropist of the Year,” and “Young Entrepreneur of the Year,” for his efforts.

Jeff’s business continually diversified, finding new ways to impact the world.  His artwork has been translated to couture fashion, with models dressed in hand-painted, red carpet gowns walking fashion runways.  Jeff’s inspiring story of art, philanthropy and entrepreneurship is featured in a book, Lessons From CLOD.  He believed, “Every act of kindness helps create kinder communities, more compassionate nations and a better world for all…even one painting at a time.”