STILLWATER, Okla. (KFOR) – An Oklahoma State University marching band member who is colorblind is seeing the world in a new light – well, color that is!
Isaiah DeHoyos bandmates got together to get their friend a touching gift for Valentine’s Day: EnChroma glasses.
The glasses work for four out of five colorblind people, enabling them to experience an expanded range of clear, distinct and vibrant color.
Thanks to DeHoyos’ friends, he was able to see color for the first time.
“The day my friends surprised me with the EnChroma glasses was very emotional,” he said. “For them to band all together was very powerful and a beautiful memory that will forever live in my heart. It reminds me that I’m surrounded by such a great group of people. They knew how much it meant to me to actually see colors. Oklahoma State University and my friends will always hold a special place in my heart because of this experience. Literally and figuratively, America’s brightest orange has become even brighter in my eyes.”
He was diagnosed with colorblindness in elementary school when he began coloring the trees and bodies of water “incorrectly.” All four of his brothers are colorblind as well.
“I would color the bark red and the leaves brown or confuse purple and blue unless the color was labeled,” he said.
To DeHoyos, the world appears dull, washed out and some colors are indistinguishable as he only sees up to 10% of the 1 million colors people with normal color vision see. Purple appears blue, pink looks gray, red and green stop lights look white-ish, red flowers look dead, and the orange in his band uniform appears brown.
It continued to be an obstacle for him as his education continued, though he continued to succeed.
“It is very difficult determining whether or not the stoplight is green or red and to mix chemicals in science class,” he said. “Recently, I graduated with a B.A. in mathematics in the honors program. I did my honors thesis, ironically, on the color symmetry of platonic solids using origami models. I spent countless hours, with lots of help, making sure I folded many shapes using the correct color patterns and that they were symmetric. It was a nightmare at times.”
Now, his world is a little brighter all because of friends like Avi Harrison, who led the charge to give their fellow Cowboy a more colorful world.
“I was completely shocked that pink exists in sunsets and new colors to me, like lilac, are in the sky at times, and discovering the variety of colors; it’s overwhelming,” DeHoyos said. “My entire perspective of the world has changed with these EnChroma glasses. Some days I love to just look at the flowers just to see all the colors. It makes me want to travel the world in color and document the experience.”
Harrison said he got the idea when DeHoyos mentioned the glasses in conversation. That very day, he made a GroupMe account and started reaching out to other members of the Cowboy Marching Band.
“I can’t imagine seeing without color and knew how badly Isaiah wanted to experience this,” he said. “35 friends helped, and we raised $325 within five days. It felt really good to have our friends come together and do this for him.”
Like DeHoyos, Harrison said it’s a memory he’ll cherish forever.
“There are so many special things about Isaiah that I can’t name them all,” he said. “He is one of the most intelligent people I know, a fantastic friend and there is nothing that he wouldn’t do for us, so we wanted to return the favor and to show how much we all love him. Being able to give Isaiah something that he has wanted for some time was an indescribable feeling. He has been able to experience things that I take for granted every day. I will remember this moment forever.”
Red-green colorblindness affects one in 12 men (8%) and one in 200 women (.5%), or around 350 million people globally.