Jason Smyth and the Dublin Ireland Stake help children with sight loss

Contributed By Ken Berber

  • 22 February 2014

Jason Smyth and Ruth Hickey from ChildVision (Head of fund raising & communications)

Jason Smyth, the fastest Paralympian on the earth and double gold medal winner at the London 2012 Paralympics, raced down from his home in Derry to help raise funds for the National Education Centre for Blind Children. ChildVision have been educating children with sight loss and various other disabilities for over 100 years. Through varied education programmes they aim to ensure all children are given access to education and help children become independent, happy and resourceful members of their communities. All children attend ChildVision free of charge.

To raise much-needed funds for the charity the members of the Dublin Ireland Stake organized and managed a “Helping Hands” activity in the grounds of ChildVision. A funfair is an annual event that is usually held at the Dublin Stake Centre with the proceeds donated to chosen charities. In 2013 the stake attempted to more effectively reach the aims of the Helping Hands programme by holding the event in partnership with a charity on their own premises. All were invited to attend, including students and their families, members of the Church, and the local community.  Jason Smyth, 4 time gold medal winner for Ireland in the Paralympics, would be the star attraction and 15,000 flyers advertising the event were posted to homes in the local area.

The event was held on September 28th 2013. Members organized all the fun stalls, including go kart racing, hook a duck, a clown balloon man, face painting, and lots more. They sold ice cream, sweets, homemade breads and cakes, and managed the car park. ChildVision organized burger and pizza stands.

Jason Smyth brought one of his Paralympic gold medals with him and gave an encouraging and inspiring talk, then posed with people for photographs.  As the event was about to start a prayer was offered to ask that all would go well and that the weather would be good.  The prayer was answered and despite forecast of rain the afternoon was blessed with pure sunshine and temperatures of 16 degrees. €8,000 was raised for the charity on the day. The Dublin Ireland Stake have since been approached by various other charities seeking “Helping Hands’” in 2014. What a way to start “hastening the work.”