A Galway mum, whose two sons were diagnosed with a degenerative blindness disease, is set to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in a bid to raise money for charity.
Headford resident Sharon Moran is on a mission to raise €10,000 for the National Council for the Blind Ireland (NCBI).
Her sons Adam (12) and Nathan (10) were diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), a slow degenerative disease with no known cure.
Sharon explains the condition, “It’s literally like it’s a little black hole coming in and closing in until they become blind.” Both boys are already showing signs of the blindness.
“It’s a gradual development of blindness so they both have night blindness and colour blindness setting in already.”
However Sharon says everybody is different and it can progress at different speeds depending on the person. At the moment both Adam and Nathan have good central vision but their peripheral vision is deteriorating. By the time the boys reach their late 30s or early 40s, it is likely that they will be blind.
Sharon’s youngest son Conor, who is four, will also need to go to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Dublin when he is eight to have more in-depth tests done to determine whether he has RP.
Both Adam and Nathan were diagnosed with myopia when they were three years old. Two years ago, an ophthalmologist discovered Nathan had RP. His brother Adam was then brought in for similar tests and was also found to have the disease.
Sharon says the news that two of her sons had RP was a “huge blow”.
“I have five sisters and four of them have boys and it has been known to skip a generation and we just thought it skipped our generation because I would be the youngest of six daughters in my house and when none of their boys had it I just automatically thought my boys wouldn’t have had it,” she said.
Sharon said the family had a “tough couple of months” but sought help from the NCBI in Galway, who were a “huge comfort” to her and her family.
“Any day we’re in Galway we can just call in at the drop of a hat and their doors are opened and what they do is they actually bring my boys in for workshops and it’s sort of like learning through play. They’re learning throughout the day and I don’t even think they realise they’re learning and picking up tips as well.”
She is hoping to raise money for the charity by climbing the 5,895-metre high Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania at the end of January.
Sharon is currently working with a personal trainer twice a week to get her ready for the mammoth climb.
“The climb will take seven days going up and one day coming down. On the summit night we climb for 17 hours so we leave about 11.30pm at night and we will climb to the summit for sunrise. You can only stay on the top for about 15 minutes and then you leave again,” she explained.
In preparation Sharon has already climbed Croagh Patrick in Mayo and in Glendalough in Wicklow. Next month she will climb Croagh Patrick three times, as well as Carrauntoohil in January with other Kilimanjaro trekkers.
Sharon also has a range of other fundraising events lined up including a cake ‘n’ bake and jumble sale, a quiz night and an auction in the Anglers Rest Hotel, Headford this Friday, 25 November at 8pm.