A legally blind fourth-grader in Tennessee got the birthday gift of a lifetime recently when his school surprised him with glasses giving him perfect vision.
On Friday, Lanier Elementary in Maryville presented Andrew Borden, 10, with eSight3 eyewear. He'd been told the gift was for his class of rising fifth-graders. The cameras were rolling as he screamed with joy, realizing the contents of the box were actually for him.
"These glasses brought me from a faraway distance of 2,200 to 20/20," Andrew told ABC affiliate WATE-TV recently. "This would make things a whole lot easier, from reading to just playing games in class, on the computers."
The eSight3 eyewear came with a visor, equipped with two cameras, that goes over Andrew's regular glasses as well as a hand controller and a dial that lets him zoom in and out. The visor also has a light and a freeze-frame option.
It was a gift that Andrew said he and his classmates had been hopefully anticipating for weeks.
Andrew has ocular albinism, which affects his hair, skin and eyes. Justin Borden, Andrew's father, said that Andrew had poor vision since birth but that as he'd gotten older and more interested in activities, he and wife Jennifer Borden had sought out solutions to assist him.
Justin Borden said that when he learned of the glasses almost a month and a half ago, he shared it with Jennifer Borden. She then reached out to eSight3 and the family traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, to have Andrew fitted for custom glasses. They glasses cost $10,000.
Jennifer Borden said that once they got home, the family started reaching out to the school and other organizations for help with raising the money for the glasses.
Renee Powell, a teacher at the school, told WATE-TV that the school had helped put together a fundraising site on GoFundMe after learning that Andrew's parents could not afford the glasses.
"We knew as a community we could do it because we have a small community but we have big hearts and we love our community members," Powell said. "Andrew is one of the most special, little guys I've ever worked with. ... It's just a dream come true for everyone here in our community."
Two days after posting the GoFundMe, more than $15,000 had been raised for Andrew. Jennifer Borden said there were a lot of anonymous donations.
"I think we cried every day that our GoFundMe page was up," Jennifer Borden said. "It's huge to realize that you have that kind of community."
Powell, Andrew and his parents all expressed gratitude to the school, the community and the anonymous donors who gave to the fundraising site. Powell said Andrew was excited for this new chapter in his life.
"He's just an amazing little guy. He's smart. He's outgoing. He loves to joke around. ... He has overcome so much but you would never know because he's everybody's friend and everybody wants to be his friend," she said.