Partially-blind, West Michigan boy helps others around the world see
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. —
A West Michigan boy, who is nearly blind, is helping to give the gift of sight to others around the world.
His struggles inspired his parents to start their own eye glass company for children, fostering a "buy one, give one" philosophy.
Newschannel 3's Jessica Wheeler met the inspiring five-year-old with a big personality and his family with an even bigger mission.
They say when one sense is lacking, the others make up for it. That is certainly the case for five-year-old Jonas Paul Harrison. His larger-than-life expressions make you forget that he doesn't see the world the way most of us do.
For little Jonas, sidewalk chalk is a way of expression. Like most kids, he and his sister Sophie spend countless hours on their driveway creating and playing. It's an impressive feat for the kindergartner who gets there with his walking stick.
For his parents, Ben and Laura Harrison, these were moments they often wondered would happen.
"When they brought him over to me, and Ben kind of carried him over to me, the very first thing I said was 'Does he have pupils?'” Laura said.
Jonas was born with a rare condition called Peters Anomaly. After 21 surgeries, he has limited vision.
"He only has vision in his right eye and they're estimating it's at about 20/400 or 20/600 corrected with the glasses so everything for him has to be really close,” Ben said.
However, finding those glasses proved once again challenging for the family.
"I started looking at options for him for glasses and I felt like I was getting frustrated with the options,” said Ben.
That's when Jonas Paul Eyewear was born.
"With the focus on more stylish glasses for kids but also like more affordable options for kids as well, because glasses can be so expensive,” said Ben.
Using his graphic design background, Ben and Laura went out on their own, starting the company in their own kitchen.
"Our first five frames I just kind of designed in illustrator,” said Ben.
Now they have their own Grand Rapids store, and 12 other employees.
"We felt so helpless with Jonas and his situation that it was kind of like a creative outlet that made us feel like we were doing something to help him and then hopefully help others as well,” said Ben.
And they're using their "buy sight, give sight" motto to do that. For every pair of Jonas Paul Eyewear sold, they donate preventive blindness medicine to other kids in developing countries.
"We were kind of heading in a certain direction and it kind of rocked our world and this is our new story. Our story was kind of rewritten and this is where we are meant to be,” said Ben.
A new story surrounding an incredible little boy with a big personality that helps others see past his limitations.
"He can just experience things so much differently than both of us do, which I feel like has just really inspired us to kind of think beyond just how you see things with your eyes,” said Laura.
Through the sale of their glasses, Jonas Paul Eyewear has given the gift of sight to more than 51,000 kids around the world. With a 10-year goal to impact the lives of two million children.