Last March, a young New Zealander named Louis Corbett learned that he was losing his eyesight due to a condition called retinitis pigmentosa. It's an inherited ailment, typically diagnosed in children and young adults, that causes the degeneration of the cells of the retina. It gets worse as time goes on, first limiting peripheral and night vision before eventually affecting sufferers' ability to perceive color and their central vision.
According to the Foundation Fighting Blindness, "most people with RP are legally blind by age 40." Louis Corbett is 12, and according to his family, his vision has deteriorated enough in the past six months to suggest that he'll be blind far, far before "most people with RP."
The Corbetts are doing whatever they can to make sure that Louis — the youngest of five children, and one of three Corbetts affected by RP — has a "visual database" of as "as many environments, colours and graphics as possible before he goes blind," according to Vaimoana Tapaleao of The New Zealand Herald. The color the sports-loving youngster most wants to see, though, is green ... and his wish might soon come true.
After telling his parents that his "biggest wish" was to watch the Boston Celtics play live, Louis' family and friends launched a fundraising project and associated Facebook page aimed at drumming up enough money to cover travel from New Zealand to the U.S., accommodations and assorted other costs. The fundraising effort drew the interest of the Herald's Tapaleao, whose story began making the rounds on social media, and apparently got all the way to the TD Garden. From Tapaleao:
Top US basketball team the Boston Celtics have reached out to a young Kiwi fan whose one wish is to see them play live before he goes blind. [...]
Co-owners of the team Wycliffe and Corrine Grousbeck have a son, Campbell, who is blind and attends the Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts.
In a joint statement to the Herald yesterday, they said: "We found out about Louis through the magic of social media and the fact that some of our followers knew about our connection to Perkins and tweeted the article to us."
They have offered to pay for Louis to travel to the US to watch a game.
Louis' father, Tim Corbett, was stunned when he heard the news.
"It's just out of this world stuff. To have someone care for a 12-year-old kid on the other side of the world is just amazing. We've been stunned by the generosity of people."
The Corbetts say that the Celtics have offered to host Louis and Tim at TD Garden for Boston's matchup with the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, March 5, with Bank of America offering up their corporate luxury box for seating, Air New Zealand offering to cover the full fare of Louis' flight and fundraising still ongoing to pay for Tim to travel with him. (As of 12 p.m. ET on Tuesday, the family's Givealittle page has raised just over $9,200 U.S.) The Celtics told BDL that the details weren't set in stone just yet, but did confirm that they're trying to get Louis to the Garden.
"The Boston Celtics Team is working on giving Louis a special experience at the Celtics game and assisting with their fundraising efforts in order to get Louis and his family here," a Celtics spokesperson told BDL Tuesday.
There's plenty to be sorted out before Louis gets to cheer on Rajon Rondo and company, but at the moment, the outpouring of support — not only for Louis, but for all three Corbett boys afflicted with RP — has Tim and Catherine Corbett feeling overwhelmed and grateful.
"This wave of care and kindness is now feeling tidal," they wrote Tuesday in a message to donors. "It is our intention that the boys live everyday in the best way possible. You helping us has made us steady knowing their future will be lived the same way."
Hat-tip to Red's Army.
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