LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – One visually-impaired athlete is showing that it doesn’t necessarily take your eyes to play sports, but your heart.
Cole Carper, 14, attends Pinnacle View Middle School in Little Rock. Like any teenager, sports are his thing.
“I pretty much like all sports,” he says. “I ski. I also water ski, bike, golf. Do just a lot of other stuff.”
However, Cole is also blind.
“I am legally blind I have a condition called Leber congenital amaurosis,” he explains.
Diagnosed shortly after birth – the genetic eye disorder deteriorates the tissue at the back of the eye and over time, causing some to lose all sight as they get older.
This past weekend, the United States Association of Blind Athletes hosted a ski festival in Colorado. Visually-impaired people from all across the country were invited to the event, including Cole.
“I just like they keep me active so I don’t end up like a couch potato but they’re also just so fun to compete in and just have fun,” he says.
Cole was one of 14 people nationwide invited by the United States Association of Blind Athletes to attend the ski event – something he says he was grateful for.
“It’s kind of hard for a lot of sports because skiing like I can’t see signs,” Cole continues.
With guides by his sides, the young athletes and the other blind participants were able to hit the slopes – with no sign of slowing down.
“I think that anyone can do any sport as long as it’s adapted to them,” he says.
Cole hopes to show kids everywhere that you can do anything you want in life – as long as you believe in yourself.
“I think of myself as a normal, everyday kid,” he says.
A teenager and athlete that wants others to see that it doesn’t take your eyes to play sports – just your heart.
“I wanna do something good and show the world that blind people and visually impaired people can do whatever they want,” Cole says.
This is the 11th year the United States Association of Blind Athletes has partnered with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield to create the ski event to help people like Cole experience life as a normal kid.
Carper’s dad says both Cole and his sister were both born with the genetic eye disorder.