Last Friday, July 5, Des Cahill played an interview on RTE’s Morning Ireland that he had recorded with Fighting Blindness member, Peter Ryan. Des and Peter had met the previous Tuesday in Croke Park, at the launch of the Fighting Blindness GAA Charity of the Year activities. Des recorded what he thought was going to be a quick chat with Peter but later commented that it actually turned out to be a very powerful interview that he would really like to broadcast. True to his word Des featured the seven minute interview on Morning Ireland the following Friday, and the response was incredible.
Peter Ryan, 23, was diagnosed with Leber hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON) at the age of 19. LHON is a rare genetic disorder with symptoms that usually begin as a sudden loss of central vision. It often starts in one eye and then several weeks’ later causes sight loss in the second eye. Peter was a talented hurler, playing senior hurling for his local club, Upperchurch Drombane, from the age of 17 and playing minor hurling for Tipperary in 2008. Speaking to Des, Peter explained how he first noticed problems with his vision and how he dealt with his diagnosis. A diagnosis of sight loss can be very difficult for both the person diagnosed and their family and friends, there are often feelings of anger, frustration, anxiety and a grieving process that follow diagnosis. The Insight Counselling Centre, run by Fighting Blindness, is a professional counselling service which offers support and guidance for people living with sight loss. You can contact Insight on 01 674 6496 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peter has been involved with Fighting Blindness since 2011 and in the past two years has worked on fundraising events and acted as a spokesperson for the organisation. Peter is currently a member of Para Cycling Development Squad and is one of the main contenders for inclusion as part of the elite squad for this year’s World Championships in Canada at the end of August. He is also hoping to make the tandem cycling team for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio and has already broken the Irish national record in the event despite only taking up the sport late last year.
We have had an amazing response to Peter’s interview, with people all over Ireland taking to social media to congratulate Peter on his honesty and spirit and to wish him well on the road to Rio. Peter is a fantastic ambassador for Fighting Blindness and we would like to join with his now many supporters in wishing him the best of luck in all his efforts to get to the World Championships in Canada and the Paralympic Games in Rio!