A Tipperary Paralympian is preparing for the monumental challenge of running from the ‘top to toe’ of Ireland to raise vital funds and spearhead the delivery of a sight loss support service into the heart of local communities.

Starting on October 8, Peter Ryan will run from Malin Head in County Donegal to Ireland’s most southerly point at Mizen Head in County Cork. The challenge will take place over five days culminating on World Sight Day 2023 (October 12), with the longest leg challenging Peter to run more than three consecutive marathons in just one day.

Ryan spoke to Sport for Business members in 2019 as part of our Business of Cycling event in Dublin and is an inceribly impressive individual.

All funds raised from the 586 km challenge will be donated to the NCBI (National Council for the Blind of Ireland) to aid the development of the country’s first mobile information and eye health awareness unit, the Vision Van.

The Vision Van will travel across Ireland, providing information on eye conditions, awareness and support services to local communities and areas in which eye health services may be harder to reach.

After being diagnosed with a rare genetic condition, Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, at age 19, Peter worked through the challenges of his vision loss with the support of NCBI and by channelling his passion and love of sport.

Peter excelled at cycling, representing Ireland at the Rio Paralympic Games in 2016 and in 2018 he became the first Paralympian to complete the Race Around Ireland in just 122 hours. Now, Peter has turned his focus to ultra-endurance running.

“When I began losing my sight at 19, I needed to find a new purpose, and sport was it,” he said. “I love pushing my body to the limit and this challenge, running from Malin to Mizen in just five days, has become my next big focus.”

“I received huge support from NCBI upon my diagnosis which has enabled me to learn a new way of living. I am taking on this challenge as a way of giving back to the charity, to raise awareness about vision loss and impairment and to challenge the stigma that is associated with disability. With the support of NCBI I have achieved great things, I advanced my sporting career and became a Paralympian – the first to complete the Race around Ireland.”

“By undertaking this ultra-endurance challenge in October, I hope to raise as much money as I can for the NCBI to continue the fantastic work they do, empowering people with blindness and vision impairment to maintain their independence and live their lives as I do. My training for the run has been going well, and it keeps me motivated that I can hopefully make a great contribution towards the development of Ireland’s first mobile eye health awareness vehicle.”

Supporting Peter in his fundraising efforts is Irish and Leinster rugby star, Robbie Henshaw, who took time out of his World Cup preparations to wish him well.

“This will be a fantastic challenge for Peter, and I hugely applaud him for undertaking it,” he said.

“NCBI does incredible work across Ireland for the sight loss community and Peter’s fundraising will play a big role in helping people right across the country break down the barriers face.”

NCBI Chief Services Officer, Aaron Mullaniff said Peter’s efforts will not only help raise vital funds but also help break down stereotypes.

“As Ireland’s national sight loss agency, our mission for more than 90 years has been to ensure that blind and vision impaired people can overcome the barriers that impede their participation in society.

“We are thrilled Peter is undertaking this challenge, and in doing so, he has chosen to help us raise much-needed funds for our Vision Van as well as raise awareness on the importance of good eye health, something that many people take for granted.”

Peter is hugely supported by his employer, Sport for Business member Campion Insurance, who are delighted to be a part of his incredible journey from Malin to Mizen head as the title sponsor for the initiative.

“I have known Peter for many years and witnessed firsthand how he dealt with the challenges of his sight loss,” said Jim Campion. “He is a valued member of Campion Insurance, and we are once again delighted to support him as he embarks on one of his toughest challenges to date. The money Peter raises will go to fund the NCBI Vision Van directly benefiting local communities throughout Ireland. We will be supporting Peter along his route and I would encourage the local communities he will pass through to come out and give him their backing.”

“Peter is a determined young man who achieves everything he sets his mind to and the NCBI is an organisation close to his heart. This will be a tough endeavour, his mental strength will be challenged as much as his physical, but I have no doubt with all our support he will complete the run.”

To donate to Peter’s fundraising efforts, visit petersvision.org or follow the Peter’s journey on social media at @petersvision01 #PetersRun