SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Imagine a life with no colors outside of black and white. Imagine looking at a tree without its leaves being green, a stop sign without its red glow, and the sky without its blue majesty.

That is the life Sylacauga High School student Victoria Arthur, better known as Tori, lived for 16 years. Color blind since birth, Tori’s vision was essentially like watching black and white television.

The inability to see colors affected her life outside of the obvious ramifications. Tori explained her eyes are very sensitive to sunlight. She has had to wear sunglasses everywhere she goes for years.

She has also had to face many limitations. In terms of being a normal teen and getting a drivers license at age 16, she has to take a different test and retest for her license every few months. Her future goals and dreams of being an aerospace engineer have been affected because aerospace engineers and pilots must be able to see color and have impeccable vision.  “It is really hard to be color blind because there are so many things you just can’t do when you are color blind,” Tori said. “I’m in the band and I can’t even see the real color of the grass that I march on.”

Those troubling days for Tori may be over thanks to Sylacauga High School art teacher Shelly Bailey and other faculty and staff.

In January of this year, then 15-year-old Tori was taking a photography class taught by Bailey who had a pair of glasses that allowed Tori to see color. When Tori tried the glasses on, she, along with Bailey, became emotional. “As soon as she put the glasses on and opened her eyes, she looked at me and said ‘its so beautiful’ and as soon as she said that we both started crying,” Bailey explained emotionally. “It was so moving and so powerful. We take for granted that we can see color, but for Tori this was a special day. We sat in the storage room where the glasses were for 45 minutes and cried our eyes out.”

In the following days Tori went to Bailey’s class daily to get the glasses and go on color walks, but the glasses had to stay with her teacher. Little did Tori know there was a plan to purchase a permanent pair of prescription color blind glasses for her own keeping.

Bailey explained she sent an email out to faculty and staff and published a post to Facebook, and the money was raised the money fairly quickly. “People are generous by nature,” she said. “I wanted to make sure she had the glasses she needed, and so many people helped. In one day I had more people ready to help than I needed.”

On Wednesday, July 19, during band practice in front of her peers, Tori received the glasses. Although Bailey wanted the presentation of the glasses to be a surprise, but said this was a hard secret to keep. Regardless, Tori happily accepted the glasses.  “It was amazing to see her joy. This was a special thing and it was even better that she got to share the moment with her friends in the band.”

Tori denied she knew the surprise was coming. She described it as unexpected and amazing, and said she is forever thankful for everyone who raised the money. She told she will now be able to live out many of her dreams. She said she can drive perfectly and will not have to retest every few months for a license. The glasses will also allow her to go through basic training to be a pilot.

Now that she permanently sees color, she has to have a favorite right? She explained she was first amazed by the color red in January, but now purple is her favorite color.

Jeremy Law for | © 2017, City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.


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