When a man delivered the news to his daughter, who was four years old at the time, that she would become blind, her response was five words that left him devastated.
The poignant and brave statement of the 4-year-old girl broke her father’s heart.
Rachael and Autumn are no ordinary high school band members. Rachael, a senior, plays percussion, and Autumn, a freshman, plays clarinet.
But we would have had a completely different high school experience without each other. That’s because Autumn is blind.
At the age of only 7 months, doctors discovered an inoperable brain tumor near the optic nerves. Over time, the tumor grew.
The parents allowed the doctors to remove the optic nerve.
And when Autumn was just four years old, her parents, Jason and Angie, allowed doctors to completely remove their daughter’s optic nerves, along with parts of the tumor.
“Autumn, I’m sorry we have to do this,” Jason recalled telling his little girl. “You won’t be able to see anymore.”
“It’s okay dad,” she replied. “God will watch over me.”
Her answer was just an introduction to the optimism and joy that Autumn shares today.
“She always had this fantastic view of the world,” says Angie. “Everything is positive. She draws people to her, she attracts them.”
Since starting high school this year, Autumn, who remembers the world around her and uses a white cane to navigate the school hallways, has hoped to march in the school band.
While performing in the stands meant standing in place with a clarinet in hand, marching in the halftime band on the football field was a challenge for Autumn.
The bumpy grass, combined with choreography she couldn’t see, meant Autumn’s dreams of marching in the band were beyond her imagination.
Until Rachael came along. The 17-year-old percussionist was looking forward to her senior year in band when she unexpectedly met Autumn at camp over the summer.
The two immediately became friends, and when the school year began, Rachael selflessly decided to become Autumn’s guide.
It meant giving up her last chance to march in the band and becoming Autumn’s eyes instead.
It’s the kind of selflessness rarely seen in adults, let alone high school seniors. But according to Rachel’s mom, Amy, it’s not weird if you know Rachael and Autumn.
“That’s exactly what Autumn would do,” Amy said. “That’s exactly what Rachael would do.” I think that’s probably why they fit in so well.”