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Fundraiser for eye disease research set in Lowville

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LOWVILLE — A fundraiser to help find a cure for a degenerative eye disease will be held here this week.

The Eye Love Cecilia Fund for Sight Night will be held from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday at the Tug Hill Vineyards in West Lowville. The cost is $10 per person.

There will be entertainment, raffles, auctions, wine tastings, appetizers and a cash bar.

Raffle items will include tools, gift baskets, a bicycle, firearms, lodging stays and various sports memorabilia, including items signed by the recently retired Mariano Rivera from the New York Yankees, Eli Manning from the New York Giants, Stevie Johnson from the Buffalo Bills and 2014 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson.

The event is named for Ilion resident Cecilia Cole, daughter of Lewis County natives Jon and Theresa Cole, who has been diagnosed with a form of Leber’s congenital amaurosis called RDH12.

All proceeds will benefit the RDH12 Fund for Sight, which funds research on finding a cure for the rare disease.

“Cecilia has a degenerative eye disease that, without a cure, will eventually lead to total blindness,” likely before the age of 20, said a letter promoting the upcoming fundraiser. “The cure for RDH12 (Retinal Dehydrogenase 12) is not possible without the continued funds to support ongoing research and testing.”

In an accompanying letter written by Cecilia, she explained that her eyes have trouble recycling molecules, called retinals, that give her the ability to detect light.

“Currently, I see at a 20/80 level with my glasses on, which is considered visually impaired,” she wrote. “My learning development has not been hindered yet, but it will. At school, I have an aide who specializes in helping the visually impaired. She is teaching me mobility, and I will being learning Braille soon. My goal is to accomplish as much as I can and see as much as I can before my eyes go dark forever.”

For information or to donate, visit the website www.rdh12.org, go the “Eye Love Cecilia” Facebook page or send a check to RDH12 Fund for Sight, c/o Theresa Cole, 1738 Barringer Road, Ilion, N.Y. 13357.

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