We are the Wahlbergs, a family of “almost” six, with three boys and a baby girl on the way, and live in St. Petersburg, Florida! Our second son, Gabriel, was born with LCA, caused by the NMNAT1 gene mutation, and has been completely blind since birth.
Gabriel was born on October 29th, 2010, and we had never heard of LCA before. As we learned when Gabe was diagnosed at 5 months of age, it is something hidden in the complexity of our genetic code, a recessive mutation that gives our children a 1 in 4 chance of being born blind. Many emotions are tied to the memories of Gabriel’s first year of life. There was happiness and much love, but there was also a sense of grief, brokenness, and over-whelming fear. We found comfort in finding other families affected by LCA, and hope in the research being done to cure all forms of blindness. As much as we hope and pray for a cure for LCA, we have absolutely no regrets about our son and who he is, blindness included.
Gabriel is now 5 years old, and has grown into an adventurous, loving, and funny little boy. He has a wonderful sense of humor, and believes that his best attribute is “being silly”! He enjoys being with his brothers and playing and listening to music. Gabe loves being outside, and especially enjoys being at the beach and the pool. He is entering Kindergarten, and will continue being main-streamed at his neighborhood school, while simultaneously receiving Braille instruction and cane traveling skills throughout the day. It is fascinating to watch Gabe grow and learn, knowing that there are tools available to help him succeed as a blind person. There is also a sadness, knowing that there are certain things that he cannot experience or understand because of his blindness. Maybe one day nobody will have to be blind, and our son will be able to see our faces.