“I Want To See Like Other Kids”

10-year-old Ava is losing her sight but you can help change her future.

Photo: 9-year-old Ava

Ava is a sweet and spunky 10-year-old. She loves being a big sister to two little brothers. Playing outside with her friends is the best way to spend a day. And when it’s time to say good night, a chapter book has most likely been part of her bedtime.

But when Ava was six years old her parents, Burt and Christina, learned she was having trouble seeing the blackboard at school. At home, they realized she couldn’t focus on her books or the television. She had to be up close — literally right in front of something — to see what was going on.

A trip to the optometrist and new glasses didn’t help. Her mom and dad fought back a rising panic as they took Ava to specialist after specialist for tests.

Then came the diagnosis: Ava had Stargardt disease, a rare eye disease that causes progressive vision loss.

Photo: Ava Henderson with her family

The Henderson family.

“When we got Ava’s diagnosis that day, it took everything I had not to break down in tears,” shares her mom, Christina. “I’ll never forget how hard the doctor’s words hit me, twisting my stomach into knots: ‘She’ll never drive. Her career choices are limited. There is no cure.’”

But Ava’s mom is not “someone who can sit around, wringing my hands and wishing things will get better.”

She discovered the Foundation Fighting Blindness, connected with other families, accessed informative education materials and learned about the innovative sight-saving research supporters like you make possible.

“Having the Foundation Fighting Blindness and it’s supporters on our side means the world to our family,” shares Ava’s mom, “It means we can fight blindness together.”

Ava’s family is now actively fundraising themselves and is involved in not one, but two FFB fundraising events in their community – Comic Vision and Cycle for Sight – because they’ll never give up hope.

Right now, Stargardt disease has no known treatment or cure. But thanks to people like you, Foundation-funded researchers are exploring gene therapy and stem cell transplants to restore vision. Two potential treatments have already reached the clinical trial stage — giving families like Ava’s so much hope. None of this would be possible without the help provided by people like you who give so generously. Your gifts bring research — and hope — to life.

Photo: Ava (far right) with her family

Stargardt is a genetic eye disease. Ava’s two little brothers have a one-in-four chance of inheriting the defective gene, too. The family is hopeful research will find answers in time for them, so if they have the disease, they won’t have to go through what Ava is experiencing.

“I’m most hopeful that one day I’ll be able to tell Ava she doesn’t have to worry anymore,” says her mom. “That one day she’ll be able to read a regular chapter book. That she’ll play tag again and be able to see who’s ‘it’. That she’ll see like other kids — something she longs for every day.

You can help make this future possible for Ava and other children living with vision loss. Your support is the key. You have the power to change lives when you help fund research that will one day restore sight for kids like Ava.

Please join me in fueling the breakthroughs we know are possible,” asks Ava’s mom, “the breakthroughs that will help more than one million Canadians living with vision loss, including my own, sweet daughter, Ava.”

“My daughter will never give up hope for a cure for vision loss, and neither will I,” she says,Please give today, as generously as you can. Your donation will help bring us closer to the day when no mother has to watch her child go blind.”

Support Vision Research