Have you ever thought how the flip of a switch can completely turn your world upside down? For senior Jacob Wilson, this realization has become reality.
Jacob has Congenital Stationary Night-Blindness Type 2, so literally the flip of a switch can cause a perfectly normal life of color to turn into a life of darkness. It is a rare genetic disorder in which the rods in the retina do not function at all. Because the rods are what allow you to see at night, no function in the rods causes night blindness.
“I just can’t see real well at night,” Jacob said. “I’m pretty much legally blind, and I have to walk with a cane.
Unlike many disorders, this one is very controllable.
Take cancer, cystic fibrosis, or even regularblindness for example, there is basically nothing you can do to control the effects, but with night blindness, it is different. It can be as easy as turning on a light. He can see in the light because the rods no longer serve a purpose in the light. Instead, the cones in the retina kick into gear, and his cones are perfectly normal allowing him to see.
“It doesn’t really bother me at all,” Jacob said. “I don’t feel any different because I don’t know what I’m missing. It could be a lot worse”
Jacob and his family have seen a lot worse.
He has done some public speaking to completely blind kids, and because he is only partially blind he is a great role model.
“He lives in both worlds, so he can really help out,” Jacob’s mom Suzan Wilson said.
He has greatly helped out because his was selected by the Missouri Commissioner
of Education to be on the Missouri Blind Task Force Board where he does public speaking at elementary schools and for blind children.
Not only has he helped out other people, but he has used this disorder greatly to his advantage. He currently sits at the top of the senior class with a GPA around a 4.8 and a thirty-five on his ACT. He also recently applied to Princeton University, the number one university in the entire nation. Although he does not know if he has been accepted, he and his family still believe it is a great honor to even have a chance of being accepted.
“He has really focused on his strengths rather than weaknesses,” Jacob’s dad Scott Wilson said. “You just have to focus on the things you can control and can do and not on the ones you can’t.”
Although Jacob has used this disorder
to make him the best person he can be, it does come with some hardship. At night he walks with a cane and there have been sometimes when he did not know there was a crack in the street or a curve and it has caused him to trip and fall. Also, if the family goes out to a restaurant and the restaurant is very dim, Jacob’s mom or dad must read the menu to him. Perhaps worst of all, Jacob can not drive at night so he must depend on his parents or friends to get around.
“It’s just a little inconvenient at night… especially in winter,” Jacob says with a laugh.
Almost right behind Jacob’s parents in people that have helped the most in his life, Jacob credits his mobility instructor Kevin Hollinger.
“Before I got Mr. Hollinger, I couldn’t get around at night at all, but he has definitely
helped,” Jacob said.
Kevin Hollinger is a Orientation and Mobility specialist for the Francis Howell School District which in Jacob’s case, means he is trying to teach him travel skills by using his cane.
“When there is no light or low light, he requires a cane to walk on sidewalks, movie theaters, etc.,” Hollinger said. “So we are trying to make him independent and be as confident as he can traveling.”
These great strides in Jacob’s fight to overcome this disorder and continue to grow as a person are very encouraging to everyone who might encounter an obstacle in their life.
“All things happen for a reason,” Suzan and Scott said. “You just have to use the gifts God gave you and don’t dwell too long on the things you feel you’ve missed out on.”