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Hope and Empowerment for the Visually Impaired

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Greg Takes Nothing for Granted

Honor Greg’s service by supporting his independence!

As a young boy, Greg loved to read. His mother, who taught him, made it so much fun that he read everyday. One day, while working as a painter, Greg received a call from an Army recruiter and accepted the challenge to enlist in the U.S. Army and serve his county. He completed boot camp and training as a fire support specialist and was ultimately stationed in Germany for the duration of his tour. After successfully completing his military obligation, he relocated back to Illinois, his home state. After his return, Greg began having eye issues that made those books he once loved to read more challenging. The eye issues became so bad that he couldn’t read a book unless it was under extreme bright light. Finally, after dealing with the issue for quite some time, Greg made an appointment to get a prescription for glasses, but the optometrist checking his eyes immediately referred him to a retina specialist for further evaluation.

Greg received some unexpected and devastating news, he was diagnosed with Stargardt macular degeneration, a genetic eye disorder that causes progressive vision loss; while battling the disease, he also developed glaucoma. “I had a hard time accepting the diagnosis,” Greg said. “Each person has their own individual experience with macular degeneration.” Today, Greg has no vision in his right eye, and relies heavily on the remaining vision in his left eye. But he still loves to read and helps his 2-year-old son, Hayden with his ABCs. Greg cannot wait until he and Hayden can read together, because he wants his son to know the joys of reading. Through Lighthouse’s help, Greg receives four books a week through BARD, a service provided by the National Library Service.

Greg’s diagnosis was not only hard on him, but on his new bride, Heather. The couple had only been married for six months before the diagnosis and they realized that the plans for the remainder of their lives would need to change. “It took a long time for me to understand what was happening, and it was a long process to get the right doctors, plus we had to advocate for ourselves,” said Heather. “Greg had a better understanding because of what he could see, but it was different for me, I had to make changes to keep our routine. Everything has a place and I wasn’t the best at that before. Greg knows exactly where everything is now and sometimes when I misplace a shoe or my keys, he finds them. Our two year old understands that everything needs to go back to where it belongs.” 

Hear more about Greg’s story of independence by playing the video below:

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