LeVar Burton To Visit WVU

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Acclaimed actor Levar Burton will be in Morgantown on April 1-2 to promote vision-enhancing technologies to aid the blind and visually impaired.  Burton will spend two days participating in activities at the West Virginia University Eye Institute and will serve as guest of honor at a WVU Health Sciences Gala, where the LeVar Burton Vision Enhancement Technology Center will be recognized.

The Levar Burton Vision Enhancement Technology Center will pair researchers from WVU School of Medicine and the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources to create, develop, test and disseminate new vision-enhancing technologies. The center will provide a framework to combine the resources of a major research university with philanthropic, governmental and business partners to provide affordably priced vision-enhancing technologies to those who need and desire them. 

Burton, who starred in the long running “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” played blind Lieutenant Geordi La Forge who wore a special vision enhancing visor.  His charitable endeavors include projects concerning the development of reading skills and accessibility issues for those with sensory or physical impairments.

“We are thrilled to have LeVar Burton coming to Morgantown to help create awareness for our Vision Enhancement Technology Center,” said John Linberg, M.D., chair of the WVU Department of Ophthalmology. “Obviously his fame as a blind character on Star Trek, as well as his charity work for those with impairments makes him a perfect spokesperson for what we are trying to achieve.”

In addition to his memorable portrayal of Geordi La Forge, Burton is also well known as the host and series producer of “Reading Rainbow,” an Emmy Award-winning series on PBS. A 1990 recipient of a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, he is also a member of the cast of “Captain Planet,” an animated children’s series. 

While a sophomore at the University of Southern California, Burton won an Emmy for his role as Kunta Kinte in the acclaimed miniseries “Roots.”  He also starred in a variety of television movies including the Emmy-nominated “Dummy,” “One in a Million: The Ron LeFlore Story,” “Grambling’s White Tiger,” “The Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones,” “Battered,” “Billy: Portrait of a Street Kid,” “A Roots Christmas: Kunta Kinte’s Gif,” and the miniseries “Liberty.”  His feature film credits include “Looking for Mr. Goodbar,” “The Hunter,” and “The Supernaturals.”

A special reception with LeVar Burton will be held at the WVU Eye Institute on Friday, April 1. Tickets are available at $100 per person. The WVU Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center Gala will be held on Saturday, April 2, at the Radisson Hotel with a reception at 6:30 p.m., a dinner at 7:30 p.m. and dancing at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are available at $100 per person.  For more information on these events, contact Paula Lange at 598-6965.

- WVU -

For more information:
Bill Case, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087

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