St. Paul Boy Opens Eyes to Vision Impairment by Dining in the Dark
Imagine what life would be like if you had to rely almost entirely on your peripheral vision. That is reality for 12-year-old Louie McGee from St. Paul, who suffers from Stargardt disease, a rare condition that destroys his eyesight.
Louie was diagnosed with the disease when he was 5 years old. Despite his condition, he is a leading scorer on his soccer team, a star swimmer and track sprinter.
Now, his vision is to cure the disease and raise awareness. He is organizing an event called "Dining in the Dark" where hundreds of kids from the Twin Cities will eat dinner in his school cafeteria, blindfolded.
"It will be like an empty table and then you will put your blindfold on. We'll serve you and then you have to figure out what it is and how you are going to eat it," McGee said.
Kids will also have the opportunity to wear special glasses Louie created that show the world through his eyes.
"Louie is driving the bus, if he could drive, he's driving the bus. So we go with his perspective and he doesn't see it as loss, he sees it as seeing differently," said Louie's mom, Annie.
"He is very comfortable telling people about blindness, that blindness does not mean pitch black," said Louie's dad, Greg.
Money raised through tickets to the event benefit the Foundation Fighting Blindness which helps fund research for retinal diseases.
"He's dead set that a cure is within our grasp and I don't think he's ever for a minute thought that this problem wasn't going to be solved for him, but also by him," Greg McGee said.
Stargardt disease is inherited through a rare recessive gene. It causes central vision loss, forcing patients to rely on their peripheral vision.
It affects one in 10,000 children, and symptoms usually start showing between the ages of 6 and 12. There is currently no treatment and no way to slow its progression.
Dining in the Dark, hosted by Louie McGee to benefit the Foundation Fighting Blindness, is on Thursday, Sept. 13, 6-7:30 p.m.
The event is at Highland Catholic School Cafeteria, 2017 Bohland Ave., St. Paul, MN 55116.
Only Twin Cities-area students can participate (parents are invited to stay at no charge for a separate awareness program).
Single tickets are $10 (school aged children only - no parent meals), $25 for three or more siblings.
Call Greg McGee at 651-690-2239 or e-mail Greg at email@example.com to purchase tickets.