Red Deer’s Caden Johnson was born with Leber congenital amaurosis, which basically means his retinas don’t work.
“I’m also photophobic so the bright light hurts my eyes,” Johnson explained.
“I use my sunglasses all the time and I use a cane when I’m walking around. Other than that, I’m a normal kid.”
The 13-year-old boy was the honorary co-chair at the Alberta Sports and Recreation Association for the Blind’s first-ever Red Deer Sight Night fun run this past Saturday evening.
All money raised at the event supported ASRAB, which provides sport and recreation opportunities for blind and visually impaired Albertans.
“I’m super excited to have an event like this,” said Johnson.
“ASRAB has done so much for me and a lot of other people, by bringing sports to Red Deer. It’s just really cool to see everyone here and raising money for ASRAB.”
Johnson said ASRAB has made it possible for him to participate in sports such as blind hockey, goalball, skateboarding and wall climbing right in Red Deer.
There have been Sight Night fun runs in Calgary and Edmonton for more than a decade, but this is the first time ASRAB hosted one in Red Deer.
“As part of our organization we try to expand our services to individuals who are blind or partially sighted in all corners of the province, and of course that includes the middle of our province,” said Philip Schuman, ASRAB president.
“It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster with COVID, so we’re excited to see people out and to be doing this in a safe and fun environment.”
Seventy-two people participated in Sight Night, which started at Bower Ponds as the sun began to set.
“The sun is setting, but some people won’t notice it. That’s why we do it – we call it ‘vision optional.’ Most of us will notice it, but you never know who around you might not,” said Schuman.
Trent Farebrother, a two-time Paralympic athlete and the current coach of Canada’s women’s Paralympic goalball team, was at the fun run. He said the sport and recreation opportunities provided by ASRAB are important to many people.
“Growing up if you’re visually impaired you may not get the opportunity to compete in sports or team activities. It allows you to, for lack of a better word, feel normalized,” said Farebrother.
For more information on ASRAB, visit asrab.ab.ca.