Edit House Productions and the Rio Rancho Community Foundation teamed up to provide funds for EnChroma glasses that will allow eight color blind students in Rio Rancho to see in color.
The students received the glasses, made for each of their specific vision needs, Wednesday at Edit House Productions as a large group of family, friends and community leaders looked on.
It’s estimated that one in 12 boys and one in 200 girls are affected by color blindness, typically when the person can’t see or distinguish between greens and reds. With nearly 17,000 students in the Rio Rancho Public School district, potentially 700 students are affected in the city.
In April, a Rio Rancho resident and military veteran, Ron Neldon, donated funds to purchase glasses that help overcome color blindness for 10 middle and high school students in the district.
“I’m actually ecstatic; watching the kids smile has made every penny worthwhile,” Neldon said. “This is huge to be able to change their lives and enhance their lives.”
But there were more identified students that needed the EnChroma glasses than there were funds to purchase them. That’s where Edit House and the Rio Rancho Community Foundation stepped in.
“We know how important color is to how we perceive the world,” said Ed Smith, owner and founder of Edit House. “Our company produces visual media, and perceiving color correctly is vital. We’re excited to be able to help overcome the dull and indistinct vision that color blindness causes and add much more vibrant color to these students’ educational and life experiences.”
Edit House Productions, LLC, contributed to the Rio Rancho Community Foundation, which matched the funds. EnChroma, a California-based company that developed the specialized glasses in 2012, donates a pair of its glasses for each pair an organization purchases via its Color Accessibility Program, as well. Students, working with Neldon, were able to choose the style of frame and lenses they preferred.
“When we saw the original news story and what Ron Neldon was working to do, we wanted to help fill the gap for the remaining students,” Smith said. “The Rio Rancho Community Foundation allowed us to designate the distribution and make this possible.”
Mayor Gregg Hull, Rio Rancho Chamber of Commerce CEO Jerry Schalow, Neldon and Carey Plant, president of the Community Foundation Board, were among those in attendance.
“The Community Foundation raises funds each year through the Rio Rancho Mayor’s Gala to help our community, and this was a wonderful opportunity to improve lives of these students,” Plant said.
Neldon, who coordinated the event with EnChroma and Edit House, shared his story that has motivated him by both tragedy and a unique inspiration.
On June 25, 1996, terrorists backed by Iran detonated a truck bomb outside of the Khobar Towers housing complex in Saudi Arabia, where Neldon was stationed with the U.S. Air Force. The blast killed 19 U.S. service members and injured hundreds. On behalf of the victims, the U.S. government successfully sued Iran for its role. With some of the money he received from the settlement, Neldon has sought ways to help others.
One of Neldon’s colleagues injured in the blast eventually had a son who was born deaf and received cochlear implants so he could hear. Neldon said that led him to watching videos of people hearing for the first time, which then led down a rabbit hole of videos of people seeing color for the first time with EnChroma glasses.
“I’m not sharing what I went through to glorify anything, because it’s not glorious,” Neldon said. “But I’m willing to do that so others can see that out of something tragic you can benefit other people’s lives. I should be dead, but this way I can make an impact on these kids’ lives.”
Neldon capped a countdown with “change your life” as the cue for the students to put on the glasses, and their faces lit up as their world did the same.
“It’s kind of hard to tell because it’s dark in here and I got the sunglasses, but I can look when I get up close and I can see that the colors are definitely a lot a lot brighter and better,” Christopher Beall said.