The journey ahead
Photo: Zach Thibodeaux, 8, has cone-rod dystrophy, an incurable condition that slowly causes blindness. (Credit: Tom Fox)
Fidgety and full of purpose, 8-year-old Zach Thibodeaux put on a blindfold and extended his fold-up cane.
The instructor took the Lewisville boy’s hand near a stretch of storefronts at NorthPark Center in Dallas. “Let me tell you a little bit about the route,” she said.
With a finger, Alexa McIntyre traced on Zach’s palm the L-shaped path he would sightlessly pursue: Straight down the mall concourse until it ended at the Dillard’s department store, then turn.
“Ready?” she said.
Zach positioned his cane and nodded.
Far ahead, Dillard’s loomed like a beam of light at the opening of a cave.
Though only in second grade, Zach is old enough to know he’s got a long road ahead.
Rapidly and surely, Zach is going blind — the result of a condition called cone-rod dystrophy, a degenerative disease that is destroying the cells of his retina and for which there is no cure.
Splotch by splotch, he’s losing sight of a world most of us experience visually, as if he were an artist trapped behind dark paint thrown at a blank canvas.