Kalkaska boys collect money for colorblind classmates

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KALKASKA, Mich. (AP) - A trio of Kalkaska boys collected nearly $3,000 in returnable bottles and cans - that's 30,000 - and used the money to buy a dozen pairs of glasses designed to help colorblind students better see the world's complete rainbow of shades.

"My brother is colorblind and I wanted him to see all the colors," said Brent Grody, 14, one of the three Kalkaska Middle School students who worked on this project.

Brent partnered with classmates John Buck, 14, and Nolan Ferguson, 14, and the three eighth-graders raised the money to purchase the special glasses from California company EnChroma as their community project.

They went door-to-door to collect returnable bottles and cans during the depths of winter and traded the loot for cash at area grocery stores, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported.

The boys provided a pair of indoor and outdoor glasses for art classrooms in each of the schools in Kalkaska Public Schools, plus a pair for Brent's 11-year-old brother, Mark, and a bonus set EnChroma donated for the brothers' 70-year-old grandfather, who also is colorblind.

Brent said it all started with online video game Fortnite, which offers an option for colorblind players. The brothers tried it out and Brent said he saw his colorblind sibling be amazed at the difference.

"When I saw his expression when he saw the video game, I wanted him to see that not just in the video game, but in the whole world," Brent said.

"And I wanted to help with that," John said. "I wanted to do something good."

"I knew his brother was colorblind, so it's important," Nolan said.

Brent, John and Nolan presented their project to the district's school board in February and they will create an informational board to display at the school's All Academic Night in May.

Middle school art teacher Jill Vyverberg said she loves that she has the glasses in her classroom should any student with color blindness wish to experience them. She expects the glasses will be helpful when students mix colors and create color wheels, she said.

"I think this is going to be huge," Vyverberg said.

Nolan said it feels pretty good to know the friends are helping students they may never know or meet.

"We're expanding their limits," Brent said.

According to the National Eye Institute, color blindness, or color vision deficiency, can be categorized into three main types: red-green is the most common; then blue-yellow; and, complete color vision absence, which is black and white only and rare.

Men are more likely to have color blindness because inherited color blindness is on the X chromosome, of which men only have one. In women, a functional gene on solely one X chromosome is enough to make up for the loss on the other, according to the institute.

Information included from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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