When TCU baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle and his wife, Kami, learned their two children suffered from a rare vision-impairing disease, they had no idea where it would take them.
After several years of trips to clinics in Houston and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, they found salvation in the Eye Clinic at the University of Iowa.
Jackson and Kathleen Schlossnagle, who will turn 12 and 11, in the next several months, were diagnosed with Leber congenital amaurosis, which affects 1 in 80,000.
"It was completely out of the blue," Jim Schlossnagle said. "It's genetic, basically. We don't have any history of any serious vision or retinal issues on either side of our families. But I have the recessive trait and she does, too."
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The kids still visit the clinic in Iowa for yearly exams, but the Schlossnagles are hoping other children will find help closer to home.
That's why they created the RB Eye Foundation to help turn the Child Vision Center, a research and diagnostics center for pediatric ophthalmology in Fort Worth, into a world-class destination for child vision care.
The foundation's first fundraising event, Eye On the Ball, is Saturday. A women's tennis tournament is scheduled in the morning at TCU.
A dinner with dancing and a silent auction at River Ranch in the Stockyards will cap the inaugural event. Texas country music singer Charlie Robison will provide entertainment.
The goal is to raise $1.5 million in the next 18 months, and help the Child Vision Center upgrade the equipment it needs to provide a unique service in Texas.
"The DFW area needed this kind of foundation and we felt like dragging our feet would be selfish," Kami Schlossnagle said. "Houston is the closest and their technology isn't as great as Iowa's. There's just no reason why we shouldn't have that here."
The Schlossnagles felt the timing was right for their foundation when the nonprofit center opened a year ago.
"They desired the same thing, so it just clicked," Kami said. "We were all on the same page and we knew our efforts and our money could go into the same desires and dreams that they have. We knew then this is what we needed to do."
Jim Schlossnagle has been approached numerous times over the years about creating his own foundation for different causes. He was always reluctant to put his name on something without a guarantee it would benefit a worthy cause.
"I wanted to find a cause that was worthy," he said. "And I wanted to actually help somebody. I didn't just want to raise money and have the money sit there and just donate it to random things. I wanted it to be a function and of use to somebody."
The connection with the Child Vision Center was a natural fit for the Schlossnagle's foundation, which will help recruit, hire and endow top researchers.
"Our center doesn't happen if people like Jim and Kami don't show the vision to make it happen," said Dr. Eric A. Packwood, who helped create the Child Vision Center with two other doctors. "For not only their children, but the whole community."
"We needed to be sensitive to the ages of our kids and we felt like they were at the age that they could handle questions if they were being approached about it." Kami said. "It's scary when you're raising money. You want to make sure it gets into the right hands. We easily could have sent the money to Iowa. But they are local, so why not do it for the people here?"
The Schlossnagles continue to be protective of their kids, but anyone who has been around TCU baseball knows Jackson, who has been a Horned Frogs' bat boy, and Kathleen, who attends most of the games.
"That's been a good thing, because everyone kind of looks out for them," Jim Schlossnagle said. "That's what makes TCU great. It is kind of one big family and everyone looks out for each other."