My name is Parker van Dyk and I have lived in Los Angeles my whole life with my parents and younger brother Carson. I’m like most other teens my age: I love Shawn Mendes, hate homework, and stay up late watching my favorite YouTubers, Dan & Phil. But one thing makes me very different from everyone I know; I am legally blind. I was born with a very rare genetic eye disease called Cone Dystrophy with Supernormal Rod Response (CDSRR) that affects only about 10,000 people in the world. Seeing the world through my eyes is very blurry, but since I was born this way, I don’t know anything different and have learned to adapt to my surroundings. The only thing I can’t do is drive a car, which is very disappointing because I just turned 16.
Although I can’t drive a car, I love to ride my dirt bike which I have been riding since I was in fifth grade. I’m proud to share visual difficulties, but I really love to flaunt my ability to ride my motorcycle! I feel a sense of freedom and control when I’m riding on the narrow racetrack at Gorman, through the wide open spaces in the Mojave Dessert, and the mountainous terrain of Mammoth. Friends always wonder how I can do this while I am legally blind, and the only thing I can tell them is “Nobody told me I couldn’t, so I can!” And even if the road ahead isn’t always visually clear, my direction in life is. Being different can be a lot of fun, but it can also make life difficult sometimes. And I’m okay with that, because being different is what makes me, me!