THE LIONS CHANGED MY LIFE A Big Leap Forward Residents of East Bernard, Texas, might see high school senior Ishmael Blackwood competing at a track meet, snapping photos for the school paper or laughing with his friends after school. He says he’s a normal teenager, but he’s anything but that. Diagnosed with cancer at just 10 months old, Blackwood lost his left eye to the disease eight months later. With his mother, Tina, at his side, he spent several years in and out of the hospital due to illness and complications. Cancer-free since he was 7, cheerful and confident Blackwood has never felt held back from anything in life. With the gift of a new prosthetic eye from the East Bernard Lions, the state-ranked hurdler has a new spring in his step. Q&A: Tina & Ishmael Blackwood Ishmael, how is your new prosthetic eye working out? Ishmael Blackwood: It’s so great! My old eye was put in when I was 4, so I had outgrown it. With the new one, my eye is more opened now. My friends noticed when I came to school with the new eye, and I got compliments! How did you meet the Lions? IB: I went to the Texas Lions Camp the summer after 7th grade. It was a blast! There were so many great activities, and it felt good to not feel like the only kid with a disability. Tina Blackwood: They had asked how else they could help us. I told them about how Ishmael needed the new eye, but we couldn’t afford it. They worked together with Ishmael’s junior high principal, who was able to negotiate a better price. Not too long after that, we were on our way to the first fitting appointment. It’s clear that Ishmael’s disability has never gotten in his way. Tina, how did you bring him up this way? TB: I give credit also to his doctors and teachers. When he was little the doctors told me not to treat him like he was different or baby him. It was hard for me, but they said it would pay off in the long run. And did it ever. I’m so proud of him, and I know he can be anything he wants to in life. Ishmael, one of your talents is track and field. IB: I’m a hurdler. I love everything about the sport, especially the meets. Everyone is nervous but having so much fun. What do you plan to do after high school? IB: I might get a track scholarship to Texas Tech. Wherever I go, I plan to be a physician’s assistant. After my experience in the hospital, I really want to help people like I was helped. Lions, has your club heard from a recipient of your service or charity? Tell us about the feedback you’ve received from those whose lives you’ve changed for the better. Email a brief description to email@example.com. Please include “Thank You” in the subject line.
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