STAMFORD, Conn., April 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The Winds of Hope Foundation,
established last year with the prize money from the successful Breitling
Orbiter round-the-world balloon challenge, issued its first donation to the
World Health Organization to help combat Noma, a deadly disease which is known
as the "Face of Poverty." Presented on the anniversary of Bertrand Piccard
and Brian Jones' triumphant Breitling Orbiter landing, March 21, 1999, the
$100,000 donation will support prevention of the disease and sustain primary
health care for children in the battle against Noma. A global campaign
against this disfiguring and lethal disease was launched by The World Health
Organization in 1994.
The Swiss-based Winds of Hope Foundation was created by Piccard, Jones and
Breitling SA with the cash prize received for being the first team to
successfully circumnavigate the globe in a hot air balloon. The sale of
Breitling precision watches in the US and globally will help to contribute to
the funding of this foundation. The mission of Winds of Hope is to help fight
diseases and forms of suffering that primarily affect children throughout the
world, and that have largely been overlooked or forgotten. Each year, on the
anniversary of the Orbiter landing, the Winds of Hope Foundation will make a
donation that meets this criteria.
"We're pleased to support the World Health Organization's valiant efforts
to prevent future generations from seeing this face of poverty," said Theodore
Schneider, president of Breitling SA. "Our company's long history with
aeronautics and technology has not only allowed us to forge new frontiers in
aviation, but has helped to put us in the position to support similar
pioneering efforts in world health and medicine."
The World Health Organization estimates that there are about 100,000
children who contact Noma every year. The disease flourishes where poverty is
greatest and nutrition is poorest. The African country of Sahel has one of
the highest concentrations of the disease.
Breitling SA is based in Grenchen, Switzerland; Breitling USA is based in
Stamford, CT. In operation since 1884, Breitling is known for its precision
chronographs, and has a long history with the aviation world, where accuracy
and reliability are paramount. Thus, Breitling chronographs are known as
instruments for professionals.
NOMA: Noma, also known as cancrum oris, is a dangerous condition that
starts in the mouth as benign oral lesion, and rapidly destroys both soft and
hard tissues of the mouth and face. Most Noma sufferers are under six years
of age. While the case-fatality rate is high, survivors are disfigured for
life, and will likely not be able to eat, speak and breathe normally. The
victims are often rejected by their communities as they are viewed as living
proof of an evil curse on their family and the entire village.