Teacher with blinding disorder will participate in Cycle for Sight fundraiser to benefit research

Teacher with blinding disorder will participate in Cycle for Sight fundraiser to benefit research

The annual Cycle for Sight fundraiser will happen on Saturday, March 10. Participants will ride a stationary bike for an hour to raise money for the University of Wisconsin’s McPherson Eye Research Institute.

Madison teacher Kelsey Tiradani will lead a team of participants for the third year in a row. She was diagnosed with Stargardt disease when she was in middle school.

“Stargardt’s is a genetic disorder that affects my central vision so it makes it difficult to read regular print, recognize people’s faces,” said Tiradani.

Local researchers have been studying her disease and other vision impairments to understand them, then work to develop new experimental treatments.

“These are problems that have plagued humankind for centuries upon centuries and so it takes a different sort of approach to develop treatments that are going to be effective,” said Dr. David Gamm, director of the McPherson Eye Research Institute.

The laboratory is paving the way by using cell-based therapy and gene editing to develop new, experimental treatments.

Dr. Gamm said if all goes as planned, they could roll out clinical trials in the next few years.

Tiradani could be one of the 100,000 Wisconsinites with severe vision loss who might benefit from this research.

“Someday I could drive a car and even 10-15 years ago I never thought that was a possibility,” she said.

She is inspiring Madison students who also have blinding diseases and visual impairments to be independent.

For the last nine years she has taught assistive technology and Braille to middle and high school students.

“She went to college, I can go to college and even someday maybe end up with children of my own,” said Sennett Middle School seventh-grader Jayquan Jaeger.

Jaeger was born with glaucoma, one of the diseases being studied at the McPherson Eye Research Institute.

He said doctors told him there isn’t much they can do, but he is thankful researchers are still working to help him.

In the last six years, the Cycle for Sight event has raised more than $150,000.

To participate in the Cycle for Sight, click here.

The event happens at three locations: Capital Fitness on North Butler Street, Princeton Club on Watts Road, and the UW Natatorium on Observatory Drive.