Growing up color blind isn’t easy. Not knowing what color shirt you’re wearing, messing up color by numbers and having to remember the order for traffic lights so that you know when to stop and go. My friends watched me struggle with color blindness for years.
In October this year, my college friends and I all met up for the annual Battle of Piney Woods football game between SFA and Sam Houston State. Every year I renew our 20 tickets for the game and coordinate tailgate activities. Out of appreciation for setting everything up, my friends surprised me with a pair of EnChroma glasses, which are designed to help people with different levels of color blindness. I had researched the glasses before but was hesitant to buy them. I can see all of the colors, but I can’t always tell what they are because my eyes do not detect red or green very easily, and often can’t tell them apart because they look similar. I wasn’t sure what the glasses would do for me. It’s hard to describe the moment I put on the glasses. Seeing all of the colors so boldly, and the contrast between colors that I had never realized before; it was very overwhelming. The sky was extremely blue, my shirt was neon orange, and I was able to see the very distinct contrast between the orange uniforms on the field and the green of the grass. I don’t think I took them off the rest of the day.
A week later, we were taking football team pictures at the junior high where I coach. One of my players, Dylan Shaw, is also color blind, so I wanted to see if my new glasses would work for him. Dylan and I had worked together on a math assignment last year that involved sorting Skittles by color. The other teacher in the room had to help us both after we didn’t do so well at sorting the orange and green candies. We’ve shared a bond since that day. So before we took our team pictures, I let him try my glasses on. His reaction was very similar to the first time I put them on. He said he could see all of the colors so clearly, and used the difference between his red football jersey and the green grass as a reference to how much he could see now. I went home at the end of that school day and shared his reaction on social media, and how it made me want to buy him a pair of his own.
The responses by my friends and family were incredible. Multiple people telling me to let them know if I was going to get the glasses for him because they wanted to make a donation to help cover the cost. Within 36 hours, the money had been raised, with most of the support coming from people who don’t even know Dylan, as well as donations from teachers on my campus. I ordered the glasses on a Friday, and received them in the mail the following Tuesday. At the conclusion of football practice this past Friday, I called him up in front of the entire team and coaching staff, and surprised him with his own pair of glasses. His reaction was incredible, and to make it better, his teammates were excited for him. They all stood up and celebrated with him because they knew what this meant for him. Since then, his parents have both expressed their gratitude. Neither could believe someone would do this for Dylan. They had previously researched the glasses for him, but just hadn’t been able to get them. They said when he came home from school the day he received the glasses, with the smile on his face, they could tell how different he saw the world now.
Coach Keith Wilson
Lomax Junior High