‘Focused’ on the future

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, August 16, 2016

JACKSON – The Jackson Lions Club presented a special laptop computer to Mathew Bazemore during a brief presentation ceremony Friday afternoon.

Bazemore, 15, lost his sight in late 2010 because of a non-malignant tumor in his brain that damaged his optic nerve.

He will be attending the 10th grade at the Governor Morehead School for the Blind on Aug. 21.

Because he can’t see the screen, he needed a special computer designed for the blind that is recommended by the Morehead School of the Blind that speaks to him and allows him to learn and perform at a high school level.

Bazemore, from Milwaukee in Northampton County, was in the 5th grade at Conway Middle School when he started to have difficulty seeing the blackboard. He was also having headaches and trouble with his balance.

His mother, Donna Bazemore, took him to Dr. Scott Edwards at his Optometry & Optical office in Ahoskie.

“He knew something wasn’t right and told me I needed to see a specialist,” Matthew recalled.

But his mother and father, Steven Bazemore, took him to the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, VA. Meanwhile, Matthew had gone completely blind.

They did intensive testing and found that he had a tumor, “the size of a large goose egg.” He then underwent a 10-hour operation that was able to reduce the tumor by half.

Before that operation, which he knew would be very lengthy and that had a good chance of ending his life, a chaplain came into his hospital room to ask Matthew what he would like him to pray for.

Matthew recalled, “I told him to pray for all the other children worse off than me.”

After the surgery, Matthew said he could see a little bit, but his sight did not last long.

His parents took him to Duke University Hospital, which gave him chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumor even more.

After three-and-a-half years of chemotherapy, which in the early months he was going in for chemo three days a week, Matthew said the tumor is now pea size.

The original blindness was caused by the large tumor putting pressure on his optic nerve. The blindness he has now is caused by the damage to the optic nerve.

Matthew has hope that his vision returns, but said he’s okay with it either way.

He likes his new school, has a girlfriend he adores in Raleigh, and enjoys life.

Lawrence Sandy, president of the Jackson Lions Club, said of Matthew, “He has the best attitude of any young man I’ve ever met.”

Matthew plays many musical instruments, including piano, organ, drums, xylophone and many more, and writes music.

He said he likes to write positive rap music, “not like the stuff you hear on the radio.”

The new computer will help him with that.

For school, Matthew will be able to take notes in class and write essays, which he now has to do on a Braille typewriter.

When he returns to school, Matthew will be Vice President of the school council and has aspirations for the presidency.

Sandy said the Jackson Lions Club couldn’t raise enough funds to purchase the computer on its own, so they asked the Seaboard Lions Club and the Roanoke Rapids Lions for assistance, which was gladly given since one of the Lions Clubs’ chief goals “is the eradication of preventable blindness.”

He said the Lions Club began its focus on helping the blind started just a few years after the founding of the Lions Club in 1925 when Helen Keller addressed a national meeting and urged them to become, “Knights of the Blind.”

The Lions of that time overwhelmingly agreed and they have been fighting to help the blind ever since. Sandy said there are now 1.4 million Lions in 102 countries and territories

Matthew said he played baseball with the Jackson Lions Club sponsored team when he was seven years old and said he wants to become a Lion one day.

Matthew also said, “I want to thank the Lions Club for everything they do for all people.”

Sandy said there are plans underway now to expand Lions Clubs in this area, with a new Lions Club now being started in Ahoskie.