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Blind Saskatchewan Rush fan, embracing eSight lenses, never misses a play
Published Sunday, March 12, 2017 6:24PM CST Last Updated Sunday, March 12, 2017 7:42PM CST
Every Saskatchewan Rush play is an eye-opening experience for Bobbi Janzen.
The legally blind Saskatoon woman has watched every Rush home game this season thanks to pair of eSight glasses she fundraised for last year.
“It’s amazing. These are things I didn’t even know existed — from down to the net to the lacrosse sticks themselves, the ball,” Janzen said. “I hadn’t seen a ball in motion in my life, so putting those glasses on and seeing these things, reading jerseys, it was phenomenal.”
She is one of the team’s biggest fans and, on Saturday, was given the opportunity to drop the official game ball in front of a crowd of 15,037. The Rush were taking on the Colorado Mammoth.
“I’m overwhelmed and I’m very honoured to be a part of this,” she said before the game.
Janzen was born with a degenerative eye condition, and the little vision she has left lacks detail. She compares her vision to looking into a foggy bathroom mirror.
The eSight glasses use a built-in high-speed camera to send images to a small, wearable computer. The images are processed and then sent back to the headset, where they’re displayed on two LED screens in front of the user’s eyes.
She first tried on the glasses last year, and within a week, she started a GoFundMe page to raise $19,500 for the lenses. She surpassed the goal in about a month.
“The generosity of complete strangers — I didn’t know probably 85 per cent of them,” Janzen said. “It was very touching.”
She was with her husband when she first tried on the glasses. The experience was emotional for both of them.
“I had tears in my eyes. I was crying for her because she was crying,” Dean Janzen said. “It was surreal.”
Seeing her husband and daughters is the best gift she received because of the eSight lenses, Bobbi said. She lost her ability to see her kids when they were five and eight years old, and now the two are 16 and 19.
“Seeing them, they’re just gorgeous,” she said.
Bobbi has followed the Rush since the team moved to Saskatoon last season and attended games even before she was able to use the glasses.
“We wanted to reach out to her and, out of admiration, we said, ‘We’d love to have you be a guest to drop a game ball because of your feelings for lacrosse and how it’s been a sport that you’ve really embraced with the challenges you had,” Rush owner Bruce Urban said.
Bobbi joked she’s even more of a fan with the glasses.
“It’s a rush.”
--- with files from Pat McKay