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Grateful patient hopes gift will advance macular degeneration research

Ruth Hanold has many reasons for supporting eye research at the University of Minnesota. She has had macular degeneration in both eyes for a decade and more recently was diagnosed with glaucoma and cataracts. The active 93-year-old moved to a retirement community four years ago when her eyesight became so poor that she could no longer drive.

Ruth Hanold

But with some adaptive tools, Hanold still does many of the things she used to do—it just takes longer now, she says.

Hanold uses a magnifying machine when she reads, and thanks to a computer program that enlarges type, she can keep up with her 8 children and 15 grandchildren by e-mail. That keeps her plenty busy, she says.

An early interest

Hanold’s ties to the University started in the 1930s, when she was working toward her bachelor’s degree in medical technology. Three weeks before she finished her training, she learned that Cecil J. Watson, M.D., a noted physician and head of the Department of Medicine, needed another researcher in his lab. Hanold jumped at the chance.

She worked for Watson until 1939, when she married Terrance Hanold, an alumnus of the University of Minnesota Law School, and left to start a family. Throughout the next several decades, Terrance Hanold was working his way up through the ranks of the Pillsbury Company and eventually joined the Minnesota Medical Foundation’s board of trustees in 1975.

Throughout his 20 years of involvement with the foundation—which raises money for healthrelated research, education, and service at the University—Terrance got Ruth involved in philanthropy, too. He took her to the then-underconstruction University of Minnesota Cancer Center in hopes that she’d take an interest in it—and she did.

From there, the Hanolds began supporting cancer research. And after Terrance’s death in 1996, Ruth continued in his philanthropic spirit by establishing a family scholarship fund in his honor. “I hope to carry out what he started,” she says.

Supporting future advances

Later, when Hanold was diagnosed with macular degeneration, she sought treatment from a retina specialist at the University. She took a special interest in what faculty members in the Department of Ophthalmology were doing to help find new, more effective ways to treat the condition.

“I was impressed by the research they were doing,” she says. “Research can lead to better understanding of the problem and ways to find a better solution.”

Hanold made her first gift to the Department of Ophthalmology in 2003. She has given to the department every year since then, supporting both the macular degeneration program and the teaching and research development fund.

As a former medical technologist, Hanold knows that advances in treatments take time. Although she isn’t expecting the research she’s funding to improve her macular degeneration, she hopes it will lead to a solution that can someday help others. “So much is possible with early detection and appropriate treatment,” she says.

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