Utah Chapter Featured Volunteer

The Utah Chapter of the Foundation Fighting Blindness is extremely grateful and excited to have such a wonderful volunteer – Jenny Gustafson

Jenny Gustafson, team captain for Cody’s Team was an immense help at the Utah VisionWalk this past June. Her son, Cody, now X, was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at age 5 when his ophthalmologist saw a shadow on his retina. Typically retinitis pigmentosa is an inherited condition, although, in Cody’s case, the disease-causing gene has not been identified yet. His retinas began to swell about 5 years ago and have since started to require medication. Cody has done very well with the medication, as some of the swelling has actually decreased this year. However, his peripheral vision continues to decline, which is a classic symptom of RP.

In 2004, when Cody was first diagnosed, Jenny did a lot of research and found herself at the Moran Eye Center seeking support. Through the Moran Eye Center, Jenny learned about the Foundation Fighting Blindness’ efforts to find treatments and cures for retinal diseases. She and the rest of the Gustafson family were very intrigued and wanted to get involved to support Cody and promising research that could one day restore his vision.

Cody, like most teenagers, has an interest in sports, and although he has participated in many over the years, playing football is now his main focus. Knowing that sight loss would make participating more difficult, Cody’s family made every effort to realize his dream of playing football possible. Having been told that Cody would not be a candidate for contact lenses, Jenny went to every eyeglass store in the area looking for sport goggles that would accommodate his helmet. Frustrated and disappointed from not being able to find the proper equipment, the family called an optometrist, and after examining Cody’s eyes, he found that Cody could wear contacts after all to help. Both Jenny and Cody were excited and relieved to learn that Cody could fulfill f his dream to play football.

Recently, Jenny and her family participated in the 2013 Utah VisionWalk, where she served as a team captain. “I felt very fortunate to be part of this wonderful event, helping to raise funds for what is most precious to my heart, my son Cody, and others with visual impairments” she said.