Northern Ireland news

Paralympian star Michael McKillop to help in in fundraising drive for teenage GAA player who has lost his sight

Paralympic running champion Michael McKillop
Connla Young

PARALYMPIC running star Michael McKillop is set to go 'the extra mile' to help a teenage GAA player who recently lost his sight.

Fionntán McPeake (15) from Co Derry was diagnosed with a rare eye condition, Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, in February after extensive medical and genetic testing.

In recent months he has suffered a sudden and massive deterioration in his sight, which was first noticed when he lined out for his local GAA club, St Trea’s Ballymaguigan, outside Magherafelt, last summer.

He has since been registered blind and there is no cure for the genetic condition.

Friends and neighbours have rallied around the McPeake family since the debilitating diagnosis and some have now organised a special ‘Run for Fionntán’ to raise funds to help cover the cost of specialist equipment.

Before his diagnosis Fionntán regularly lined out for St Trea’s and was part of the club’s under-14 championship winning team in 2017.

The planned run has attracted high profile support with four-time Paralympian Michael McKillop throwing his weight behind the project and is set to make a guest appearance.

The Randalstown-based athlete, who picked up gold medals at the Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro Paralympics, will make a guest appearance at the event in August.

The athletics star last night said he knows what it is like to deal with a disability and said he was touched after speaking to Fionntán's mother Lorraine.

“I grew up with a disability my whole life and I know how hard it was for me growing up and understanding the change and being different,” he said.

“I know how it feels to have a disability but to be diagnosed with a disability out of the blue must be very difficult and life changing for him and his family and it’s important to highlight the adaptions he has to go through."

Organisers say the event includes a chipped and timed 10k road race, a 5k road race “and a family or individual fun run, walk or crawl”.

The run will take place on the roads around Ballymaguigan on Sunday, August 4.

For more information visit the ‘Run for Fionntán’ Facebook page or to register go to:

The 'Run for Fionntán' will take place on August 4

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