"It Isn't About Us"
Don and Carole Jones (BA ’96) knew that their 13-year-old son, Jonathan, was severely colorblind, but had no idea just how much he was missing. While none of her other five kids share Jonathan’s colorblindness, it was clear from a young age that colors were going to be a challenge for him. Carole received a call one day from Jonathan’s junior high science teacher explaining that they were going to have a lesson on genetics, discussing how certain traits (such as colorblindness) can be passed on through generations. The principal of the school, who is also colorblind, offered to let Jonathan try out his pair of EnChroma glasses during the class. Upon seeing vivid color for the very first time, Jonathan was overwhelmed and in tears. “He was obsessed with the color of the glowing blue-green numbers on the microwave the first day he came home with his own pair of glasses,” Carole says. “He even got excited about the green freeway signs; he just had no idea that they were so bright.”
Jonathan’s emotional reaction to seeing new colors was captured on video and soon went viral. Knowing what this could mean for others, Jonathan began a GoFundMe account in order to purchase EnChroma glasses for other K–12 students. Carole says, “We wanted to help other kids see what they were missing and experience the same joy Jonathan did.” With the help of the media, their GoFundMe account raised over $38,000 in only a few months. In addition, the EnChroma company agreed to match every pair of glasses purchased, doubling the number of students who would benefit. Carole says, “I was brought to tears so many times by the number of people who trusted us enough to send us money. They don’t know anything about us, right? All they’ve seen is the video, maybe a news report. But people were sending in donations from $5 to $1,000.”
Not being able to fill every request made by a colorblind individual was difficult. “For every donation we made, we’d receive from 25 to 50 requests for glasses,” Carole says. Managing this from their small Minnesota town, including turning down thousands of requests, was hard. She read each request and, based on the need and financial situation, would have to decide whether they met the criteria they’d determined. She says, “I had to ask my oldest daughter to take charge of screening and responding to the emails—my heart just couldn’t take it anymore.” The demand was so great for a time that responding to requests and outreach from the media (news stations, talk shows, etc.) often led to Carole working 18- to 20-hour days. With such a high volume of requests, they partnered with the Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) to coordinate the application and distribution of the glasses.
“It isn’t about us” became the war cry the Jones family adopted through the intensity of the experience. Although it was overwhelming and stressful, Carole and Jonathan kept their eyes fixed on the bigger picture. “God gave us this small window of light and attention,” Carole says, “and we could’ve just sat back and reveled in it, but He showed us a way to turn that light toward others.” With the donations and the matching contributions from EnChroma, they were able to distribute over $65,000 worth of glasses to K–12 students in need.
The journey may not have been an easy one, but Carole says that “blessings have come through one hundred-fold. . . . We’ve learned so much about ourselves and the generosity of others throughout the process and, although I probably wouldn’t choose to do it again, I’m so grateful that God chose us.”
To learn more about Jonathan's efforts and contribute to the GoFundMe campaign, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/sp7m4-color-blind-glasses.