‘He has no fear’: Strongsville teen with severe vision loss disease just keeps on swimming

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STRONGSVILLE, Ohio (WJW) — Seeing isn’t always believing. At least it’s not that way for 14-year-old Caleb Webb of Strongsville.

“I was kind of scared because we never dealt with anything like that,” says Caleb’s Dad, Ron Webb.  

“I was born with the condition, but it gets progressively worse as you age,” Caleb says. 

Caleb has done it all growing up, football, basketball, golf, wrestling, range shooting and he’s even competed in track and field. 

“I have tears quite often, it overwhelms me,” says Caleb’s Mom, Amy Golden. “You asked him about fear, he has no fear.” 

WJW photo

Caleb is a freshman at Strongsville High School, where he competes on the high school swim team.  

“My heart goes in my throat quite often, but I’ve gotten used to it over the last couple of years,” Golden says.  

“I’ve always enjoyed swimming as an activity, I really love the water,” Caleb says. 

Caleb’s future in the pool maybe unknown, but his determination is unmatched.    

“If I had a team of 10 Caleb’s, I’m telling you, we’d be undefeated,” Ron says. “It’s ridiculous how well he works.” 

Caleb was diagnosed at the age of 3 with Lebers Congenital Amaurosis — a severe vision loss disease.  

“There are spots in the center and off to the left and right of my vision that just aren’t there, that you just can’t see, and a lot of stuff is blurry,” Caleb says. “And stuff kind of blends into the ground, like that chair and that table are the same color to me.

“If I’m in the pool, if I’m racing, there is not much time to feel fear, you have other things to worry about at the time,” he says 

Caleb’s vision is getting worse as he gets older. He’s one of 85 people in the US with this condition and one of 1,800 worldwide. 

“Yes, I’m devastated, we are devastated that he has never been able to see what you or I see,” Golden says.  

Swimming always has been a team sport, but for Caleb it’s become a family affair. His parents are at every meet, not only cheering him on but playing a vital role in the competition. They touch Caleb with a pole as he nears the edge of the pool, they are his “eyes” in the sky. 

WJW photo

“I get scared, I’m scared that I’m going to mess up, that I’m going to miss it and not get him tapped in time and he’s going to hit the wall,” Golden says. 

“He has to trust us to tap him at the right time and we have to trust him to take the right amount of strokes,” Ron says. 

You’ll never hear the words “can’t” or “won’t” when Caleb speaks.

“He doesn’t have a slow speed, he doesn’t have a, hey, take a slow lap or whatever, he has one speed, it’s go,” Ron says. 

But he will make you believe what you see.   

“Don’t let anything that is different about you, hinder you from doing what you want to do, if there is something you want to do, you can do it,” Caleb says.

Not only is Caleb an inspiration in the pool, he’s also an inspiration in the classroom, he takes three honors classes, and his GPA is right around 4.0.

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