Mum's marathon effort to help fight blindness

Evening Echo, September 17, 2016

Mum’s marathon effort to help fight blindness

By Sarah Horgan

A MOTHER of three will run for the charity who helped restore hope after a devastating disease left her legally blind.

Angela Ginnell, from Glanmire, was diagnosed with the degenerative condition Stargardt disease while pregnant with her youngest daughter, three-year-old Tess.

She will lead the way for friends and neighbours in the Evening Echo Women’s Mini Marathon on September 25 in the hope of raising funds for Fighting Blindness.

She described the events that led her to avail of the charity, which champions research into treatments and cures for blindness. They also offer a professional counselling service for those affected by sight loss.

“I was pregnant with my third child at the time of my diagnosis. I was quite unlucky, as normally this condition doesn’t present itself until later in life. Having a baby on the way was a huge distraction at the time as there was so much to prepare.”

“‘It was only when I was no longer able to drive that things really bit home. Not being able to spontaneously take the kids to the beach on a sunny day was very difficult.” It was at this point that Angela sought help from  Fighting Blindness.

“I began sessions with John Delany after hearing an advertisement for Fighting Blindness on the radio.  He is blind himself so he knew exactly what I was going through.  I was like a different person after the counselling.  Fighting Blindness has helped me so much.  Now I’m ready to give something back.  Its impossible to ask your friend or even your husband to see things through your eyes. That’s why in situations like this, counselling is very important.  It gave me a space to figure things out.”

Having an insight into medical advancements has proved heartening for Angela.

“I attended the Retina conference hosted by Fighting Blindness and it gave me hope.  I heard about the advancements in gene replacement therapy which could help my children in the future.”

Angela’s children Tom, aged 8, Colm, 5, and Tess, 3, have kept her strong during her darkest hours. “One of the boys heard me say I was going to the beautician to have my eyes done. His face lit up. He thought that by ‘doing my eyes’ she would be fixing my sight as well. I had to laugh at the innocence.  Luckily the  kids  don’t worry about this from one end of the day to the other as they are still very young.”

To find out more about Fighting Blindness visit www.FightingBlindness.ie

Meanwhile charities and groups across the city are gearing up for the mini marathon, which has become one of the biggest fundraisers in Munster for a variety of causes.