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'Don’t give up': Blind Sask. hockey fan eyes future calling games

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A 10-year old boy from Martensville is a big hockey fan despite a severe congenital vision impairment.

Isaiah Gauthier loves everything about hockey. From playing the game to listening on the radio or watching on TV, despite being almost completely blind.

“Isaiah has a retinal disease called LCA (Lebers Congenital Amaurosis) and he was born with this condition,” said Renelle Gauthier, Isaiah’s mom. “Isaiah has unfortunately one of the most severe forms of LCA. He can see light, so he has light perception. But his vision is very minimal.”

Despite being shy at first, he’s used his love of hockey to become more outgoing and try new things.

“He likes to do things on his own without me there and he's very independent,” said Gauthier’s mom. “He likes to learn as much as he can so that he can not rely on you.”

When he's not playing road, ice, or video game hockey, Gauthier uses a specialized device where he can type and read braille. Using the machine, he can bring up Blades highlights with his favourite broadcaster, Les Lazaruk.

“I could go on YouTube, and I can use voice search, or I can write in the search box with my braille keyboard,” said Gauthier. “It has six dots, and if I push it somewhere, I can make letters.”

Gauthier’s braille reading ability is ahead of his grade level. Using the machine he reads contracted braille, which shortens longer words to save space. He says using contracted braille in searching for sports highlights has helped his reading ability.

“I think because I can recognize those big words that are just contracted braille, that makes me a better reader because I’m pretty good at guessing words,” he said.

It was while listening to a game between Swift Current and Saskatoon that he noticed something different, setting him on his new passion.

“There was a different public address announcer, and I thought, maybe I could do this,” said Gauthier. “And if I practise and I really set my mind to it, I know it’s possible.”

Ever since, he’s been practising his goal calls and doing play by play for his own games of road hockey, and taking notes from Lazaruk on Blades broadcasts.

Gauthier’s mom says what motivates him most is reaching out to someone else who is struggling, and the youngster has advice for anyone else who might be feeling a little timid.

“I just want to say, if somebody is blind, don't give up on a dream just because maybe you can’t see or you can’t walk,” said Gauthier. “Dont give up on a dream just because you can’t do something other people can.”

And Gauthier’s not giving up on his dream of belting out a goal announcement over the loudspeakers at a hockey game.

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