Posted on February 21, 2011

Legally Blind 15 Year Old Is Also Best Alpine Skier On Her High School Team

We read stories every day of the underdog overcoming all odds. Christina DiPietro belongs with this courageous category as she deals everyday with a disease that affects something we all take for granted; our sight. Diagnosed at the surprisingly early age of four with Retinitis pigmentosa, she is already legally blind. Christina goes to high school at Fryeburg Academy where she skis competitively against other 15-year-olds. Not only does she compete, she demolishes her competition and is the best Alpine skier on her team. Through her own adaptations to her environment she is able to ski faster and more accurately, even though she is gearing for complete blindness one day in her adult life.

Retinitis pigmentosa is a disease that affects the retina, and can be passed on in the form of a genetic defect, as in Christina’s case. Retinitis pigmentosa is a rare condition that affects 1 in 4,000 people in the United States. Sadly, the treatments for this disease are not entirely effective, and no cure is in the near future. The Juliette Foundation is an organization with the ultimate vision to achieve cures for Retinitis Pigmentosa and other retina-related eye diseases. The Juliette RP Vision Foundation was founded in 2008 to help find a cure for Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). The foundation was created by Dr. Robert F. Melendez and several of his MBA colleagues from Anderson School of Management at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Melendez was inspired to learn more about the eye as a young boy when his mother was diagnosed with RP. If you are interested in more information or donating to the cause you can find it at their website, http://www.juliettefoundation.org.

Christina faces her future with uncanny optimism and gumption. She is determined to ski in spite of her declining vision health, and will always have a competitive fire that will aid her in the years to come. She competes in the State Championship this Saturday in Presque Isle, Maine. We wish her the very best of luck.