Family sells homemade goods to raise money for eye disease research

Raffle tickets and homemade quilts at Berrybeat in Abbotsford this weekend

Family sells homemade goods to raise money for eye disease research

Megan Lambert


Kara Dibben is a successful woman. She works in marketing and lives a vibrant social life with her tight-knit family and friends in Abbotsford.

But she’s losing her sight.

Kara, 37, has retinitis pigmentosa., a degenerative eye disease which causes cells in the retina to stop growing and replacing themselves. The cells die, and vision is eventually lost.

To raise money to help people like Kara, her family will have a booth selling raffle tickets and homemade quilts at the Berrybeat festival this weekend, July 4 and 5, in historic downtown Abbotsford.

Her mom, Kathy Penner, is at the forefront of the fundraising efforts, planning to collect recyclables for a year in hopes to raise $5,000.

“It was devastating,” Penner says as she recalls hearing the news about her daughter. Kara was diagnosed in her late 20s, and has been encountering more challenges as the disease progresses.

The family is hoping to raise funds for more equipment for Dr. Kevin Gregory-Evens, who is studying stem cell research at UBC. The funds will go through the Foundation for Fighting Blindness, which offers support for people like Kara and their families.

As to whether her fundraising attempts will get to the $5,000 goal, Penner says it’s worth trying.

“We’re just hoping, praying about it,” she says. “But if it doesn’t work, we’ll just give what we can give.”