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A super-rare illness might take her sight, so she's seeing the world while she still can.

There’s a very real possibility that 15-year-old Alexis Meyers will become completely blind in the next few years. Before that happens, she and her family are trying their hardest to make sure she sees as much of the world as she can.

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Even when she was little, Alexis knew something wasn’t quite right with her eyes.

She remembers it starting in third grade. "It was harder to read books, and I couldn't see the blackboard," she says. Her hearing loss that had started in kindergarten was worse too.

Alexis and her family at Disneyland Paris. Image via the Meyers family, used with permission.


After years of tests, the Meyers family and their doctors discovered the cause — a mutation of Alexis' OPA-1 gene. It's an extremely rare disorder that causes the cells in Alexis' optic nerves to atrophy, eventually causing blindness. At present, there's no cure.

Once she knew what she was facing, Alexis didn't shrink from it.

In seventh grade she stood in front of her class and gave a PowerPoint presentation about her genetic disorder. She explained what causes it and what it was doing to her eyesight and hearing. She shared that it could leave her blind before her 20th birthday. She was brave, factual, and didn't cry. After all, she already had a plan.

Alexis at Stonehenge. Image via the Meyers family, used with permission.

Alexis had always wanted to see the world someday. Her diagnosis simply moved up the schedule.

For the last few years, Alexis and her family have traveled as much as they can. They've visited the Grand Canyon, Mackinac Island, England, France, and Germany. Alexis loved Germany's castles — Heidelberg in particular. "There was so much history, so much celebration and so much food in Germany," she says. "Heidelberg was so big and beautiful— and it has the world's largest barrel inside it!" After a pause she adds conspiratorially, "It's supposed to be haunted too."

One of her favorite early trips was to Jamaica, where the family swam with dolphins and climbed waterfalls. Alexis loved every minute, but cautions folks against taking a horseback ride on the beach. "The horses in front of you will throw up sand with their feet and it gets in your face. It's really gross."

Most of Alexis' travel money comes through fundraisers. She's sold homemade jewelry or handcrafted dog treats to help pay for trips. Right now, she and her family are raising money with an online fundraising page.

Alexis' list of places to go and things to do is still growing.

Number one is to see Iceland's northern lights. Sometime in the next year, she'll do just that.

The Northern Lights tops Alexis' list of natural phenomenon she wants to see. Image via iStock.

The family is planning a trip to Iceland where they'll take a dip in the blue lagoon and watch auroras make the sky dance and change colors. Later they're hoping to visit Northern Ireland and walk the Giant's Causeway, travel to Rome to see the Colosseum, visit Australia and New Zealand, and then check out Kīlauea volcano in Hawaii.

Receiving the kind of diagnosis that Alexis did could be devastating and isolating for so many people. Thanks to her family and community, Alexis is determined to see the positives.

With their help, she's transforming it into an opportunity to create visual memories of the world she loves before she can’t anymore.

"I love seeing her face light up when she sees these places she's only read about before," says Alexis' mom Kristin. "We're doing what she wants to do and seeing what she wants to see as long as we can."

Eventually, Alexis wants to go to college and study to become a veterinarian. Second only to travel, she says, is her love of animals. But the cats and dogs can wait — for now, seeing the world is her first priority.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

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We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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