Five weeks ago, David Schultz woke up one morning and found that he was unable to see out of his left eye. Experiencing loss of vision would be traumatic for anyone, but David, by trade, is a nature photographer and losing his sight means much more than not being able to see and enjoy the colors of life.
"During the evening, a blood vessel in my retina hemorrhaged, without warning, and so the fluid in my left eye is now full of blood and small clots," Schultz said. "It's very scary to have one of these hemorrhages which can happen at any time."
Blindness is one of the complications caused by juvenile diabetes, which Schultz has been fighting daily since the age of 13.
In fact, being diagnosed with juvenile diabetes was the main reason Schultz decided to pursue photography as a profession.
"Back then the current treatments for this common complication were not available and I feared one day I'd lose my vision completely, and had been cautioned on this possibility. With that in mind, I decided that I wanted to get out to see as much of the world as I could while I could, just in case," Schultz said.
Traveling through the U.S. and Canada, he was struck by the beauty of the natural world and decided to photograph what he saw. His travels took him across the world, even to Antarctica, where he photographed polar bears and penguins in their natural environment.
In 1998 he opened up his own photography gallery on Main Street, West Light Images Gallery, and showcased his nature photographs to travelers from all over the world, all the while battling juvenile diabetes rather successfully.
That had been the case up until about a month ago, when his battle with diabetes took a turn for the worse and David woke up unable to see in his left eye due to a complication of Diabetic Retinopathy. There are medical procedures to remedy the complication, but the continual medical costs for tests and surgeries have become overwhelming.
Hearing about his financial challenges, Jo Hickman, a longtime friend of Schultz, decided to do something about it and started an online fundraising campaign to solicit donations for Schultz's surgery.
"I wanted to somehow help him get the surgery to restore his sight." Hickman stated. "This fundraiser for me is about giving back to someone who has given so much to others. It's at these times when we can support those in need and demonstrate hope and charity that gives us the human experience."
Anyone can donate to the online fund that Hickman has created. She hopes that by the end of the month, she will have raised enough funds to help David pay for his upcoming eye surgery.
"Through donations we are hoping to raise $15,000 in 30 days and have reached $6,575 with 41 contributors in just 4 days," Hickman said. "People are touched with David's story and the impression he has left with them when they have visited his West Light Images Gallery. This fundraiser is critical to helping a talented, hardworking individual regain his sight so he can continue with his livelihood of being an international nature photographer and doing what he loves."
To make matters worse, David's faithful canine companion of over 12 years, Koda, has also developed a very serious medical condition. Koda is suffering from Laryngeal Paralysis, which makes it extremely difficult for her to breathe. The funds gathered from this online campaign will be used to help pay for Koda's surgery as well.
Anyone can donate to the fund and help David and Koda through his gallery's Facebook page, Facebook.com/WestLightImages. They will be giving away photography prints to donors randomly and hope to host a fundraising event later in the month.