DUBLIN, Ireland, August 20 /PRNewswire/ --

Looking for a challenge? Get ready for an adventure! ORBIS Ireland invites runners to compete in the 2008 Great Ethiopian Run on November 23rd in the world's third highest capital, Addis Ababa. Running at 10,000 feet above sea level, participants will help save the sight of 60,000 Ethiopians at immediate risk from blindness due to trachoma.

An estimated 10 million Ethiopians, primarily women and children, suffer from trachoma, a highly infectious eye disease that is easily spread between infected and healthy eyes by flies, fingers or clothing. The infection thrives in areas where people have limited access to clean water and basic health care.

"While most of the Western world knows very little about trachoma, it is devastating many rural communities throughout Ethiopia," said Wondu Alemayehu, ORBIS Ethiopia country director. "Treatment with antibiotics or through increased environmental and lifestyle changes costs very little but contributes immeasurably to a person's quality of life and hope for a productive future."

The Great Ethiopian Run will bring together an estimated 30,000 competitors including world renowned athletes Haile Gebrselassie and Richard Nerurkar. Participants are asked to support ORBIS Ireland's commitment to eliminate blinding trachoma in the Gamo Gofa, Konso and Derashe regions of Ethiopia by the end of 2012 by raising a minimum donation of euro 3,500. Athletes who meet the minimum fundraising goal will receive hotel accommodations, event travel and entry into the event.

The Great Ethiopian Run was founded in 2001 when Ethiopia's first-ever international mass-participation road race was staged. The idea for the Great Ethiopian Run came from the organizers of the Great North Run in England and was supported in Ethiopia by the then British Ambassador to Ethiopia HE Myles Wickstead. The aims of the first run were to contribute to the betterment of life in Ethiopia.

Join ORBIS on the Great Ethiopian Run and give the precious gift of sight. To learn how, contact Sara Dale on 01 299 3530 or email sara.dale@ie.orbis.org.


ORBIS International is a nonprofit global development organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide. Since 1982, ORBIS programs have benefited people in 86 countries, enhancing the skills of more than 195,000 health care personnel and providing eye care treatment for more than 6.8 million people.

ORBIS's Ireland office was founded by a group of committed volunteers in 2004, mainly as a result of Ireland's close links to the aviation industry and years of successful fundraising here. From the beginning, ORBIS Ireland's efforts have been centered on Gamo Gofa and the surrounding regions in southern Ethiopia, which are among the country's poorest and worst affected by avoidable blindness.

Sara Dale of ORBIS Ireland, +353-1-299-3530, sara.dale@ie.orbis.org