After a young man from Embro began losing his vision because of a rare eye disease, his small community stepped up in a big way.
The sudden onset of severe vision loss brought Devon Heather's life as he knew it to a halt.
“I stopped driving and then I stopped working,” he said,
The 22-year-old mechanic was diagnosed with Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy earlier this year.
“It affects your central vision, which makes everything very blurry and it's usually not curable,” he explained.
His wife Lindsay says the rare and fast-moving disease also quickly impacted the newlywed’s plans for the future.
“When you get married you think we're going to have a house, kids, do all this sort of stuff together and now finding out what is going to be a new normal for us has definitely been an adjustment,” she said.
The couple learned it would cost thousands for treatments that may slow the pace of the disease.
“It's been proven to help some people with LHON and others it doesn't do anything for. So we're kind of in limbo,” she said.
The cost of the medicine and specialty glasses that Devon requires isn't covered in Ontario, so the mechanic’s former employer and brother-in-law set up an online fundraiser.
“We kicked it off with a slight donation and it’s been really positive feedback so far,” said Brian Elliott who set up the GoFundMe campaign.
The small community of Embro stepped up in a big way, helping the Heathers to not only meet their goal but surpass it.
“We hit the goal. We're over $17,000 through the GoFundMe page and there have been a few customers who have dropped cash off,” said Elliott.
The money will go towards the $10,000 glasses and medicine that comes at a cost of $300 dollars a bottle per month.
“We were getting donations from people we didn't even know. People that Devon’s worked on their vehicles one time,” said Lindsay.
The Heathers say they're blown away by the generosity of their tight-knit community.
“I'm thankful. It was definitely a surprise when I seen the GoFundMe and I’m very happy they did it,” adds Devon.
The help will provide Devon the resources and tools he needs as he explores what a new vision for the future might look like for him.