“Caleb’s quality of life continues to be positively impacted by Envision as he navigates new and challenging situations. We appreciate that Envision has a continuum of care that encompasses all walks and stages of life. We feel like we have only seen the tip of the iceberg of help that Envision offers blind and visually impaired individuals, as we have been on this journey for a relatively short time.”
Caleb was 13 years old when he was involved in a tragic car accident that left him fighting for his life. He spent more than five months in three different hospitals and another three months of full-day intensive outpatient rehab hospital care. Due to traumatic brain injury, Caleb has a multitude of challenges he will continue to work through for the rest of his life, including hearing loss in his left ear and no vision in either eye.
Caleb was able to return to school by his 14th birthday, after coming home from Madonna Rehabilitation in Lincoln, Nebraska. He was introduced to Envision’s Rehabilitation Center in June of 2021, and started working with Ray Oddis, Envision’s Orientation and Mobility Specialist. Now 17, Caleb has been able to continue doing the things he loves and is thriving.
Caleb is attending Clearwater High School and will start his senior year in August of 2023. He has always been very active in athletics and had joined track as a 7th grader, only to complete one track practice before the wreck in 2019 which took his vision. In 8th grade, his school’s physical therapist asked him if he’d be interested in joining the track team, and together they completed one full week of track practice before Covid-19 shut the schools, and the track season ended.
His first full season of track competition was as a freshman in high school, and his physical therapist was his running guide for his re-entry into school sports after the accident. Caleb finished his junior year and his second complete track season at Clearwater High School and is excited to see what opportunities his senior year will bring for him.
Aaron, Caleb’s dad, shares: “With everything else on our plate, we hadn't put any thought into track until the week before practice was to start. Kim wasn't so sure that we or Caleb had the bandwidth to take on track, but I was convinced he needed to give it a shot. We turned to prayer asking God to provide a running guide if it was his will that Caleb should go out for track. In a matter of hours, God had placed Greg in our lives. Apparently, Caleb was supposed to go out for track!”
“Greg is a marathon runner, and his knowledge of running is extensive. As a husband and father of two young kids himself, we are extremely grateful to him for adding track to his busy schedule. Between Greg's guidance, Caleb's determination, and God's provision, Caleb's 400-meter dash times improved at every single meet. We were very fortunate to have Greg offer to run with Caleb. There is more to running with a sighted guide than you might think. It takes quite a bit of practice to get the gait in sync, learn to communicate efficiently, and get to know one another’s running style and limits,” Aaron continues.
While Caleb's race of choice was the 400-meter dash, it became clear to his running guide, coach, and parents that he was also pretty successful at longer distances. Caleb gave the 1600- meter (or 1 mile) dash a shot at the last meet of the season, and he ran it in 7 minutes and 46 seconds, just beating his goal of 8 minutes.
“Caleb loves to tell people how he holds the school records for the 400- and 1600-meter dash events, in that he has the fastest times in those two events for a blind student. He knows he’s finishing well after the pack in each race, but his upbeat attitude about it all is inspiring,” said Aaron.
“One thing we as parents will never get over is the crowd response to Caleb's running," said Aaron. "The applause from the crowd as he nears the finish line is tear-jerking. Sometimes announcers will report his finish-line arrival over the loudspeakers, but at every meet there are people cheering him on from not only his hometown, but from other schools as well. To us as his parents, it's a reminder of how far God's brought him, how many people have come alongside him to help, and how hard he has worked to overcome the challenging hand he's been dealt.”
Along with thriving in sports, Caleb is also thriving in his rehabilitation and recovery. He still meets regularly with Ray Oddis, working on crossing busy intersections, as well as maneuvering around the Kansas Aviation Museum, where Caleb has a summer job as a tour guide. In addition to working on traditional orientation and mobility tasks, Ray has provided valuable guidance for Caleb on how to safely incorporate additional exercise into his life that has had a notable impact on building his core body strength. Given Caleb’s ongoing recovery, this has greatly helped his success with improved balance, stamina, and confidence.
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