Jasen Bracy Swings for the Fences
By Jacqui D. Sinarle
Anything is possible in Jasen Bracy’s world.
Name just about any activity a ten-year-old boy could dream of doing and chances are he’s done it.
Play baseball with his peers? Yep.
Perform music at Gallo Center? Check.
Try indoor skydiving? Done it.
And while they appear to be reasonable accomplishments, what’s remarkable is that jasen has achieved them all since losing his eyesight at age six.
“Jasen has always loved sports,” said his mother, Wendy Rivera. “He has so much energy and he loves to be outside and play or do anything that’s active. Everybody who meets him is amazed, and some people don’t even realize he’s vision impaired.”
Sometimes a few minor adjustments must be made. For instance, when Jasen played baseball with his sighted peers for the Sonoma Dolphins in a local coach-pitch league, his father pitched to him, he followed the sound of clickers to locate the bases, and his sister Mariah stood behind him on the ﬁeld to direct him to the ball.
Jasen enjoys riding rollercoasters, bicycling, golﬁng, swimming, going to the movies, listening to audio books, and playing Playstation and electronic games. He attends public school with sighted classmates and kept up with his class level despite spending a lot of time in hospitals. He’s even performed vocals and keyboards with the Jammin’ J’s at Gallo Center and tried skateboarding and indoor soccer.
In fact, Jasen’s list of achievements is so long that it would take less time to name the things he can’t do — that is, if you could think of any.
When Jasen was just 1 1/2 years old he was diagnosed with cancerous eye tumors called retinoblastoma in both eyes. Despite grueling chemotherapy and radiation treatments, his left eye had to be replaced with a prosthetic. His right eye developed chronic retinal detachment, which makes it sensitive to sunlight and necessary to wear protective glasses.
But he’s never let a lack of sight stop him from pursuing his goals.
“Jasen has such a great attitude,” Rivera observed. “He’s had to deal with a lot and I don’t know how he does it. His strength keeps me going.”
In an effort to experience what jasen does every day, his family sits down to eat dinner blindfolded once a month. “We spill food all over,” Rivera admitted. “Jasen loves it.”
It’s no surprise that behind this remarkable boy is a remarkable mom.
“I’ve always told Jasen that he can do anything he wants to do,” Rivera said. “I hope that Jasen’s story can help another child who’s going through his or her own battles. We all feel the same pain, and if we’re able to prevail and get through it, the rewards are priceless.”
Rivera encouraged parents to learn how to identify retinoblastoma since it is not routinely screened at birth and can occur with no family history, as it did to Jasen. “If your child’s eye appears to have a reﬂection that shows a white or yellow color, have it checked out immediately,” she advised. “If you can’t afford an eye exam, call 1-800-infantsee.” She also invited parents with questions for her or Jasen to email her at [email protected]
Although it’s been three years since Jasen completed chemotherapy, he faces another hurdle this summer: brain surgery to remove what doctors suspect is a leaking vein weakened by radiation treatment.
Knowing Jasen, he won’t be on the sidelines for long.
As Jasen says whenever he adds another accomplishment to his list: “Bracys make it happen.”
Currently he’s interested in playing football and taking martial arts lessons, but one thing Jasen isn’t tempted to do is drive a car, Rivera said. “He told me that in the future there will be cars that do the driving for you.”