Gabi Hollows has been a driving force behind The Fred Hollows Foundation since she helped set it up in 1992. She is the public face of The Foundation, a founding director, and patron of The Fred Hollows Foundation Miracle Club.
Gabi was born on May 21, 1953 in Newcastle, New South Wales and grew up on an orchard on the Central Coast of NSW.
“I was quite cross-eyed when I was about three years old. After visiting doctors and having an operation to correct my eyes I decided that I wanted to help people with eye problems.”
In her teens Gabi worked every Saturday morning as a receptionist for a local GP, and graduated as an orthoptist in 1972 (orthoptists specialise in disorders of eye movements and associated vision problems).
She first met Fred Hollows during her training and, in 1976, she joined the National Trachoma and Eye Health Program (NTEHP),  initiated and led by Fred and sponsored by the Royal Australian College of Ophthalmologists and the Australian Government.
For three years, Gabi and Fred visited over 465 remote Indigenous communities with a team of people, treating Indigenous Australians for trachoma and other painful eye conditions.
Gabi had previously known very little about Indigenous Australians and says that working on the program was a tremendous honour.
“I saw so much of Australia and have beautiful memories. I was very privileged to be initiated into Aboriginal culture the way I was. Those years changed my life and the way I see things.”
Gabi and Fred were married in 1980 and had five children: Cam, Emma, Anna-Louise and twins Ruth and Rosa.
In 1992, four years after Fred became sick with cancer, Fred and Gabi realised he didn’t have long to live. They got together with friends and set up The Fred Hollows Foundation  to continue his work.
Since Fred’s death on February 10, 1993, Gabi has continued to work tirelessly for The Foundation  while caring for her large family. In 1996 Gabi married lawyer and family friend John Balazs, who has a daughter Kate, from a previous relationship.
Gabi has been recognised for her work through an Advance Australia Award for Community Service and a Paul Harris Fellowship from Rotary International. She has also been named one of Australia’s 100 Living National Treasures. In 2003 she was awarded a Centenary Medal by the Australian Government.
Gabi is a patron of other organisations, including the Life Force Cancer Foundation. She is particularly passionate about children and education and became an honorary member of Rotary in 2006.