ETX mom hopes 'Joel's Journey for Sight' leads to China - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

ETX mom hopes 'Joel's Journey for Sight' leads to China

Joel Hilton Joel Hilton

A young Tyler mom is doing everything she can to get her young son to China for stem cell treatments -- and she needs your help.

Emily Roberts's son, Joel Hilton, was born with two conditions that have left him blind and unable to grow properly.

He was born with optic nerve hypoplasia and septo-optic dysplasia, conditions that affect his sight and his pituitary gland, which affect his growth and development.

"I just, I never -- I mean, everyone says this -- never thought it would be me. I mean, you don't expect me, especially at 18 years old, I did not expect to have a blind child. It's just, why me," Roberts said. "But it happened. And he's here."

Now, Roberts's hope is to raise enough money to take Joel to China. A hospital there has accepted Joel to receive five umbilical cord stem cell treatments, which Roberts hopes will help Joel regain some sight and help restore some of his pituitary gland.

"It's not a 100 percent thing. I don't want people thinking that he's going to go and come back and be able to see 20/20. No. Even if he can see a little bit or know when the light's on or the light's off, or if he can see shadows and movement, that would be a miracle, because right now he can't see anything," Roberts said.

Joel receives physical, occupational, and early childhood therapies twice a week, but Roberts is the first to admit that life with these conditions has been very different than she'd imagined.

"He's definitely not like a normal child. Normal kids run around and he sits right here with mommy," Roberts said. "I have to carry him everywhere, he can't walk. I mean, he can't talk, either. I just kind of have to know. I know him pretty well, though, because we're always together. He's like my little buddy."

And her hope for Joel is for improvement of any kind after the stem cell treatment.

"When he does get the stem cells if he could see my face or be able to see the blue sky or just things like that that people take for granted," Roberts said.

Joel was accepted for his stem cell treatments last summer, which will cost nearly $19,000. Roberts and her family are hoping to raise $35,000 to have enough to travel to China and stay for the near-month it will take Joel to have his treatments.

If you'd like to help, you can donate to Joel at any Austin Bank -- his account is listed in care of Janie Powers as "Joel's Journey for Sight."

He also has a Facebook page and a website.You can donate by PayPal there or buy t-shirts and bracelets to help show your support.

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