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A Very Special Thank You

fall leavesThis week, the Foundation Fighting Blindness has much to be thankful for – its members, the tireless efforts of researchers and, of course, the readers of this blog, many of whom share their interest in our work via social media. But our biggest “thank you” goes to those who are directly affected by retinal diseases and do all they can to help FFB raise funds for research.

With that in mind, I’d like to share an extraordinary essay written by Colin Krouse, a 15-year-old from Wayne, Pennsylvania, whose 13-year-old brother, Casey, has Stargardt disease.  This fall, the Krouse family participated in the 6th annual Philadelphia VisionWalk, a 5K fundraiser, and in his essay, Colin shares what it’s like to be the sibling of someone with a retinal disease. He also thanks his brother for reasons you’ll read below:

Colin (left) and Casey Krouse at the Philadelphia VisionWalk. Four years ago, my family was seated in our living room, watching Sunday night football. It was not an uncommon sight, except something was a bit off. Throughout the night, my parents made comments about my little brother, Casey, who was inching closer and closer to the TV, squinting as if it were the middle of a bright, sunny day. We didn’t think much of it at first, but as this kept occurring, it was obvious that this was something that should probably get checked out.

Casey went through numerous tests and saw a countless number of doctors who all said the same thing – they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. More than two years later, Casey was finally diagnosed with Stargardt disease, which progressively worsens central vision. Imagine a big black dot in the center of each eye that grows larger every day. That’s basically what Stargardt is.

The news didn’t affect me at first, mostly because I didn’t understand what was going on. But, as I became more curious, I began to feel the impact of Casey’s situation. Suddenly, thoughts were flying through my mind. It felt like I had literally lost my best friend. If I had a brother who couldn’t see, who would I play one-on-one baseball with in the backyard? Who would I play video games with? Or ride bikes with down the street to the park?

It was selfish of me, but, initially, I resented my little brother. I was angry, not at him but the situation. It was an anger that could have been soothed by talking to someone, but who was there to talk to? No one was there when I blasted one of his sloppy change-up pitches into the apple tree and trotted around the bases while being pelted with Casey’s glove and shoes. No one was there when, once again, he beat me in basketball, and I threw the ball at him, sending him inside screaming and bragging at the same time. No one was there when we made up after another one of these fights by sneaking freeze-pops and eating them together in the garage.

No one could possibly understand the bond that my brother and I shared, so who could possibly empathize with me? It took a while to realize that the situation was not a burden, but rather a blessing. Over time, as I saw Casey still strike everybody out, best everyone in the classroom and continue to land his patented hook shot over my head, I realized he wasn’t slowing down.

At that point, I began to learn from my little brother. I learned perseverance as I saw him swing at and miss yet another pitch, only to rip one into the gap when it mattered most. I learned courage as, on the basketball court, he took on kids twice his size before nailing a jump shot. I learned determination as he overcame his struggles to read words and see numbers to still get that A-plus.

Best of all, this past summer, I watched Casey – the same kid who had tested as legally blind just a few weeks earlier – pitch a complete game against the number three team in the nation at the Aberdeen, Maryland, baseball complex and send his team of underdogs into the semifinals of the tournament.

I now realize how much I’ve benefited from having Casey in my life. I couldn’t ask for a better little brother, who is still my toughest competitor. I love him more than anyone else in the world, including me. Of course we still have our tiffs, but, at the end of each day, I can’t help but think of how lucky and thankful I am to have him in my life.

– Colin Krouse

Pictured, above: Colin (left) and Casey Krouse at the Philadelphia VisionWalk. 

4 Responses to 'A Very Special Thank You'

  1. Eric says:

    That was beautiful. Thanks Colin.

  2. Shayla says:

    NOVEMBER 28, 2012

    Dear FFB Staff,
    My name is Shayla and I enjoy your foundation website because you all do such good things for people with vision issues. I loved the story that Casey’s older brother wrote about his starghardts’. I am happy to see how such a sad circumstance can affect so many individuals. Mostly, the people we truely love! Maybe people who are blind/ vision impaired have a story and life lesson to teach us all. This story was touching to me because I lost my brother, Kyle several weeks ago and this story makes me ”love” my other brothers even more then I already do. Thank you.

    Merry Christmas,
    Shayla McCartney

  3. I love tools such as this. I have the exact model. But your endurance will get any worse as it gets older.

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