The Wittenbergs Honor their Glaucoma Doctor with Inspired Gift to The Cure is in Sight Campaign

The Glaucoma Research Foundation (GRF) mission to cure glaucoma is fueled by donations from many sources—much of it from patients, families, and friends touched by the disease.

What you might not know is that there are many different ways to give. For instance, did you know that you could make a tax-free gift to GRF through your IRA?

If you’ve wanted to give to GRF, but didn’t think you had the resources, this might be an option for you. It is for Susan and Harvey Wittenberg.

Married for 53 years, the Wittenbergs are from El Cerrito, California. Harvey, a retired attorney, was diagnosed with glaucoma about 30 years ago, in his 50s. He’s doing fine today, he says, thanks to the constant care of glaucoma specialist Andrew Iwach, MD. Since 2004, the couple has made regular donations to GRF, but after they attended the launch of The Cure is in Sight Campaign, they were inspired to do more.

“The four researchers who spoke that evening were so inspiring and committed,” says Susan, retired executive director of the West Contra Costa Education Fund, a nonprofit that provides grants and scholarships to teachers and students. “I come from a 25-year career working at a nonprofit. GRF impressed me with how successful they’ve been at accomplishing what they set out to do.”

Harvey has always been extremely impressed with Dr. Iwach, as a doctor and a person. He wanted to take the opportunity to make a larger gift in honor of his long-time specialist. The Wittenbergs decided to make a leadership gift to The Cure is in Sight Campaign, and learned that they could do so through their IRA, over two years.

“It’s a very easy process,” says Susan. “The funds automatically go from the IRA to GRF. And because the money doesn’t ever pass through our hands, it’s tax-free.”

Another factor motivating Susan and Harvey to make a planned gift was their children. Susan says their older daughter, who is 51, will likely be diagnosed with glaucoma in the future. “Her eyes have followed the same pattern as her father’s,” Susan says. “It would be nice if there were real practices in place to not only treat her disease, but stop it.”

Giving back is something the Wittenbergs have instilled in both their daughters. “We really do believe that if you’ve been fortunate enough to have all your needs met, you have an obligation to give back,” Susan says. “It’s interesting and exciting to see how a donation can impact a cause as it moves forward. We hope the next generation will pick up the baton and keep supporting this cause.”

If you are 70-and-a-half years old or older, you can give up to $100,000 from your IRA directly to GRF without having to pay income taxes on the money.

Not 70 ½ yet?

You can still support glaucoma research with your IRA. Simply name Glaucoma Research Foundation as a beneficiary, and we’ll receive the funds, or the portion you designate, after your lifetime.

If you are contemplating a planned gift, we suggest you consult with your tax professional. In addition, please feel free to contact Nancy Graydon at (415) 986-3162 ext. 231 with your questions.


First posted on September 15, 2017; Reviewed on June 22, 2022