Teenager works to fight blindness


by Melissa Swan


Posted on October 2, 2012 at 5:21 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 3 at 7:56 AM

Form a team - Walk with us!

Date: Sat., Oct. 27
Location: Waterfront Park - Harbor Lawn, 129 E. River Rd.
Registration: 9 a.m.
Walk Start: 10:30 a.m.

Click here for more information or to register for the Vision Walk.

(WHAS11) -- When Ty Griffin gets off the school bus these days he walks right past the blue beauty in the driveway, a 1992 Chevy truck with rally racing rims.  It was a gift from his grandfather, but Ty is no longer allowed to drive.  

In language that is typical to an 18-year-old Ty described how it feels not being able to do what others his age can.

"It really kinda sucks," Ty said. "It kinda clipped my wings" 

Now, Ty depends on friends to take him where he needs to go.  They laugh about the things Ty used to do like running into cement walls or never spotting a teacher in time.  Now, they know why.

During what Ty and his Mom thought was a routine exam to get new contact lens they learned a shocking truth.

"My mom freaked out a whole lot more than I did cause I was like, I figure it can't be that bad," Ty said. "Then my Mom started doing more researched and she called me in a panic."

Ty's mom, Joanna Kane, was researching retinitis pigmentosa, commonly called RP.  It's a genetic disorder that causes severe vision impairment and blindness. In Ty's case he has no peripheral vision.  It's like looking into a tunnel and he has night blindness. 

Now, some of what Ty did and didn't do in the past makes more sense. His mother says, "He just did not see well at night (especially in) the hallway," Kane said. "If he's walking down the hallway and you're walking down the hallway he will run you over."

Ty decided if he couldn't drive, then he would fly. That's right fly. For his 18th birthday Ty went skydiving.  

"I wanted to see what that would be like," Ty said. "You can't do anything more crazy than that and it's beautiful.  It was beautiful."

But most of all Ty and his mother want to see a cure for RP.   

Joanna said, "The doctors are there, the science is there. They just need the funding," Kane said. "They just need the research."

On Oct. 27, Ty, his mom and a whole lot of family and friends will join others in Louisville's 4th annual Vision Walk to raise money for research to fight blindness. 

Click here for more information on the Vision Walk.

Ty Griffin is the youth co-chair of the event at Waterfront Park. 

The optimistic guy says RP has opened new doors for him. He has worked with the Vision Walk, he enjoys and learns from his therapy sessions, he's meeting interesting people and yes.....he got to talk on the news and quote one of his favorite movies, "Joe Dirt."  

You might know the quote, "Life's a Garden. Dig it."

Click here fore more information on blindness.