Tipperary native Peter Ryan scoops prestigious award at Fighting Blindness Annual Sporting Gala Dinner

Annual event fuels the charity’s mission to cure, support and empower those living with sight loss


Marking one of the most anticipated weekends in the sporting calendar, Irish Charity Fighting Blindness held its annual Sporting Gala Dinner on Saturday night, 8th February at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin. 


Hosted by RTE’s Shay Byrne, the glamorous event saw Ireland’s racing and rugby communities unite to show support for Fighting Blindness and celebrate the sporting highlights of the day.


As well as raising an overwhelming amount on the night, a special award was presented to Fighting Blindness member,Peter Ryan (23) from Upperchurch, Drombane, Tipperary. The Empower Award, supported by Novartis, recognizes the work that Peter undertook to improve awareness of rapidly degenerating vision as well as honoring the positive example he sets for young people who are facing vision impairment or loss.


Peter, diagnosed in 2010 with Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, a retinal degenerative condition that affects a person’s central vision and often results in very rapid sight loss. Having represented Ireland at underage level in soccer and also county minor hurling with Tipperary, Peter has shown great courage in dealing with his condition and has set himself various challenges alongside his fundraising efforts including pursuing a place on the 2016 Irish Paralympics cycling team, heading for Rio De Janeiro.

Peter Ryan Upperchurch

Peter was joined on the night by rugby legends Mick GalweyPhillip Doyle and Shane Byrne who entertained guests with their Six Nations synopsis following Ireland’s second round clash against Wales. Top jockeys David Casey, Ruby Walsh and Brian Cooper shared their tips and quips ahead of the next day’s Hennessy Gold Cup racing.


Upon accepting his award, Peter added, “I’d like to thank Fighting Blindness for this award; I have been really grateful for the support provided by the team in Fighting Blindness and in turn have supported them as much as I can.


It’s really motivating to be part of a team where everybody is working together – patients, scientists, eye doctors, volunteers and organisations like Fighting Blindness.


Everybody is doing their part and that’s how we’ll make a difference. I look forward to continuing my work as a volunteer for this amazing charity and raising awareness of the support Fighting Blindness provides to patients as well as enabling and empowering those working in Ireland and abroad to cure eye conditions.”

 Other guests and friends of the charity included elegant duo Jackie Skelly and Dave Malone, and well known horse trainer Edward O’Grady with his wife Maria.


The highlight of the charity’s fundraising calendar; the Sporting Gala Dinner aims to raise vital funds to help Fighting Blindness fulfil their mission to develop treatments and cures for retinal conditions, while supporting and empowering the 224,000 Irish people who are living with sight loss. More information is available at www.fightingblindness.ie.

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