Indian Trail team supports friend and blind research at Charlotte VisionWalk
When he turned one month old, Derek Wynne’s family suffered a tremendous loss following the death of his older brother. Despite her grief, mother Anita Wynne knew something was wrong with baby Derek.
“His eyes would water and they wouldn’t focus,” she recalled. Ignoring neurologist claims that he was fine, Wynne remained unconvinced. At 18 months, specialists diagnosed Derek with Retinitis Pigmentosa or RP—an incurable and progressive degeneration of the retina that leads to blindness.
“I spent the next two years going to every specialist getting opinions,” Wynne said, before receiving a self-described wake-up call from a Boston physician. “He told me to focus on caring for my son and to stop fighting the diagnosis,” she said. “That’s when I found the Foundation.”
The Foundation Fighting Blindness provided a lifeline of sorts for Wynne and her family. “I didn’t know anyone blind or going blind,” she explained. “I needed stories of hope and that’s what they gave me.”
The Foundation has been an invaluable source of inspiration, Wynne said, recounting stories of blind individuals succeeding against the odds and achieving phenomenal feats like hiking the Appalachian Trail. “I need to know he can do anything,” she said. “Even without his sight.” When it came time for Derek to begin school, Wynne credits the Foundation with providing much-needed tactical and logistical support as well.
Derek’s dream team and the Charlotte VisionWalk
To support the Foundation and others suffering from blinding diseases, hundreds will gather at the Charlotte VisionWalk in Freedom Park Saturday, Nov. 12, at 9 a.m. The Wynne family will be there as they have every year since their move to Indian Trail in 2006. As Captain of Derek’s Dream Team, their team of 25 will do their part to help the Foundation raise $65K for blindness research. Derek’s Dream Team consists of friends and classmates, who help determine the team name each year.
Wynne encourages others to come out and walk for a good cause.
“It doesn’t cost a dime to participate,” she adds. “Just show up because the more the merrier.” With everything from inflatables, face painting, food and refreshments, the event offers good old fashioned fun for a good cause. This year’s free family-friendly event will also include special guest Sir Purr from the Carolina Panthers, and dogs and strollers are welcome on the 3.1-mile course.
A huge NASCAR fan, Wynne connected with the Jimmie Johnson Foundation and Derek recently shared his story during last month’s Dining in the Dark, another Foundation event benefitting sight-saving research. As part of this unique evening, guests dined in complete darkness for 30 minutes to get a glimpse into the lives of the blind, and Derek presented the Foundation’s Visionary Award to his role model, NASCAR all-time winner Richard Petty.
A sixth-grader at Metrolina Christian Academy, Derek works incredibly hard to earn his straight As.
“It takes him 40 minutes to read what it takes others 20 minutes,” his mother explained. Despite RP slowly robbing him of sight, Derek’s accomplishments are nothing less than extraordinary.
To participate or support the Charlotte VisionWalk, and to learn more about the Foundation Fighting Blindness, visit www.FightBlindness.org/CharlotteVisionWalk.