Joseph Marques, 60, of Antelope, can’t see much more than shadows.
So it isn’t any surprise that all he wants for Christmas is a new high-tech tool that will allow him to see the smile on his 36-year-old daughter Amanda’s face and the eye color of his two grandchildren, Anastasia, 16 and Paul, 14. He is hoping to raise $9,500 to purchase the device called eSight, a headset that captures images and beams them before a person’s eyes.
Marques has spent a lifetime with poor eyesight. When he was in high school, he suffered from glaucoma in both eyes. He lost his left eye all together after some students beat him up in high school.
Today, with just his right eye intact, he still can’t see much. That is in addition to several other physical challenges he says stemmed from the umbilical cord being wrapped around his neck at birth. He has cerebral palsy and suffers from epileptic seizures.
But it has never diminished his resolve to find a solution to improve his eyesight. Nor has it affected his intent to make the most of the gifts he has.
“My parents encouraged me to maximize my limited potential and live life to the fullest, which I have,” he said.
He married for a second time in 2013, but lost his wife, Gina Espinosa, less than two years ago after complications from gallbladder surgery. He still participates in Special Olympics and has 23 of its medals on display in his home. He is a regular at the Dream Theatre, Inc. in Roseville, a theater arts day program for those with disabilities. He is currently rehearsing a singing part for a production of “the Grinch Stole Christmas”, with performances on Dec. 7 and 8.
Marques has never given up looking for solutions to improve his eyesight. He recently learned that he would be an ideal candidate for the special device.
It looks like a visor one wears near the eyes. Inside, it has a high speed camera that captures what the user is looking at and displays those images across the screen. The user can adjust colors, contrast, brightness and focus to get the best image.
If his dream becomes a reality, he said he would like to look into the faces of everyone who has been kind to him, including his family, friends and everyone he knows at the theatre. He would love to see their expressions. Most dear to him, he says, would be to see Christmas just the way his family sees it – from the tree to house decorations and all the wrapped presents. It would be a first for him to actually watch his family members open their gifts and an even bigger first to be able to actually see the presents given to him.
Every year, he goes with family to look at the lights in the neighborhood. This season, he wouldn’t have to ask them to describe what they are seeing.
He is also looking forward to the ability to be able to read a theater script without having to make out what is on the page by putting it up close to his eyes and viewing through a magnifying glass. And he would enjoy simple things that sighted people take for granted.
“I could see how a bird flies … what a squirrel looks like,” he said with a broad grin.
He loves the River Cats and is excited at the possibility of seeing the baseball players running the bases, and reading the numbers on their jerseys. And then there is Disneyland.
“I’ve never seen Tinker Bell fly at the castle,” he said.
Marques says he is grateful for everything he has today, especially the ability to live with his in-laws, who are his biggest boosters. Andrew Espinosa says his son-in-law deserves to see well.
“We met Joe 10 years ago through Gina … He amazes us and reminds us of the positivity my daughter also had,” he said, noting she also had special needs that didn’t hold her back from living life to the fullest.
“He is not one to wallow in self-pity,” he added. “He is a great individual who was speechless at virtually seeing the world for the first time with eSight glasses,” in a recent demonstration.
Marques nodded his agreement. ”Absolutely. It will change my life,” he said.
Book of Dreams #209638616
eSight Glasses request
Joseph Marques of Antelope, CA