My brother, Louie McGee is a 16 year old kid full of confidence and adventure. He explores his life with a disadvantage, a rare and incurable eye disease. I am Louie’s 13 year old sister, Carmella. Growing up having a blind brother is what I call normal. We argue. We have trouble sharing. We laugh. And most importantly, we find a best friend right under the same roof. The only differences are the extra couple hours spent reading homework to him, listening to books together, or talking him down the mountain when we ski. I think the complications of blindness appear when others come into the picture. People who didn’t grow up with blindness as a normal part of life see it as a scary disease, rather than the boy it latched onto.
Blind kids are just like other kids; they want to explore, learn, dream, grow, discover, and accomplish. They are handed plenty of materials to make these things possible, improvements that people like Helen Keller and Morris Frank fought so hard for.There can be a hole at the root of these great things, which makes a dream so much more distant – lack of confidence because of individual fears before the chance to try.
Growing up in the amazing support system we have in our community, Louie has been able to build off of his child’s instincts of daring and confidence. By feeding into mass amounts of that confidence, and blocking out the tiny bit of fear, he has been able to learn how to ski on mountains, slack line in the air, and climb that much closer to living his life the way he wants to. I can see both paths. I see how peoples’ fear pushes them to fertilize that small bit of a child’s fear, and cover up their potential - confidence. I see the blind skier vest becoming dusty in the bottom of some drawer because the skier doesn’t have the confidence to get to it. I see the unlimited potential of a child being wasted because of the “what if’s.”
This is one of the reasons that Louie’s Vision was created. Louie had a vision as a kid, just a regular little boy, to explore the world. He carried out his vision, but realized that some of the other kids he knew who were facing blindness would not always do the same. It’s time for the blind skier vest to get fished out of the drawer, dusted off and used.
Blindness has taught me the value in doing and the value in the experience overall. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said, “I know that kid! He’s my brother!” He sees beyond his disability and has inspired me to push myself through the “I can’ts” and “It’s hard” and helped me trust myself, as a growing kid, to understand that I can do anything – I just have to figure out how.
Do what you were born to do, you just have to trust yourself – Beyoncé