The July Issue of Endurance Magazine features Tucker Dupree, a 19 year-old swimmer who will be representing the U.S. in the Paralymics Games in China this year. Getting dressed for school one day, nearly two years ago, Tucker suddenly became aware of a grey spot in the center of his left eye. Unconcerned at first, he saw his family doctor when the spot didn’t go away over time. A single drop of blood told Tucker the genetic origin of his condition: Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy, which leads to blindness. After 60% loss of vision in his left eye, it would be only six months before he slowly lost 70% vision in his right eye. There is no known cure for the disease, and the only treatment is treatment for the depression that individuals experience at the onset of this disease.
Considering learning of treatment of depression as the best option … “the suggestion of it made both me and my parents angry,” said Tucker. “We never considered giving up hope.” Their philosophy? Not to let Tucker’s loss of sight steal his joy of living. Tucker’s diminished sight has become part of him, and he sincerely feels that it has changed him for the better, “It has opened my eyes to focus on the things that are most important in my life. I do not take things for granted anymore and I feel fortunate for the things I have.”
When asked what is the one vision he has seen that he wants to keep as a mental picture throughout the rest of his life, Tucker is candid about his feelings: “I want to remember how my parents looked when I received the Greater Raleigh Sports Council Courage Award. The smiles on their faces and the pride and joy in their eyes said you are my son. I know they love me so much. I am humbled by it.”
Thanks for showing us your amazing attitude, Tucker. Best of luck in Beijing!!!