The first thing that Goshuami “Gigi” Valoy saw when she put on color-blind corrective glasses was green — the vibrancy of the grass and trees — and later, the brilliance of red in stop signs and flowers.
In a June 14th video capturing the emotional moment, the color-blind Pennsylvania teen cried as she took in the full spectrum of colors for the very first time.
“The world was just so much brighter and more full of life than I had seen it. I didn’t realize that everything was this pretty,” Valoy tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Because color-blindness is more common in men than women, Valoy wasn’t diagnosed with red-green color blind deficiencies until the fourth grade. For the past 17 years, Valoy says she has lived in a “black and white movie,” with red and greens appearing gray or black.
“Where those colors are there’s just nothing at all. I grew up missing out on a lot of things that I didn’t even know about,” the recent Louis E. Dieruff High School graduate says. Before she was diagnosed, Valoy says she struggled with certain topics in school and would even paint the ocean purple.
But not anymore. The transformative moment all started with a public speaking class Valoy took at Penn State Lehigh Valley as a part of its Pathway to College and Career Readiness program. After making an informative speech to her class about growing up with color blindness, her professor, Sandy Kile, was inspired to teach the class a more important life lesson.
“As she was doing the speech, she mentioned that they had corrective glasses but they were too expensive,” Kile tells Yahoo Lifestyle, adding that color blind glasses can cost up to $350. “I try to teach these kids that they can do anything, they just have to reach out and ask for it.”
Kile decided the class would reach out to companies that made corrective glasses to see if they would donate a pair to Valoy. While Kile encouraged Valoy to write a narrative about living in a world with mostly shades of grey and brown, her classmates wrote accompanying statements about why she needed the glasses.
“I didn’t have any hopes,” Valoy says. “Professor Kile truly believed it was going to happen and we were all unsure.”
Valoy says she wasn’t surprised when the first company turned down their request. Then, the class received a reply from the founder of Pilestone Inc., a Philadelphia-based company that designs the glasses, offering her and six other community members his glasses for free.
“I started this business by trying to help people. This is another chance for me to help," founder Ben Zhuang told ABC6, who delivered the glasses himself.
Kile, some school guidance counselors, and a couple of friends brought Valoy outside to test out the glasses for the first time.
“When I saw the [colors] and that they were right in front of me the whole time, it was emotional,” Valoy recalls of the life-changing moment.
The entire moment was captured on video as Valoy turned around to see the expanse of green grass around her and Kile’s bright red pants.
“It’s so pretty,” Valoy said in the video, as she burst into tears. “Is that red?”
Valoy says she’s grateful for Kile and her classmates for their efforts in helping her see the world in a way that she didn’t think was possible. But Kile says that being able to help change Valoy’s life is something she will “never forget for the rest of my life.”
“I’m 62, I’ve been teaching at the college level for 30 years. And just attempting to do something for her and being able to be part of that transformation for her, I will never forget that for the rest of my life,” says Kile.
Now that Valoy is seeing the world in a new light, she has a bucket list of things she wants to see and do with her new color-blind glasses before she goes off to Gannon University in Erie to study psychology.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the sunset and the pinks and reds on Valentine’s Day,” says Valoy, adding that she’s excited to see stop signs while driving and the holiday cheer around Christmas.
“You truly don’t know what you’re missing out on until you see it.”
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