Subscribe for 33¢ / day

PORTAGE — For the first time in his life, Kevin Geise could look into his mother's eyes and take in their vibrant blue color.

"I looked into my beautiful 89-year-old mother's eyes. They were vibrant, bright like a teenager's, and very blue," the auditorium director/production supervisor at Portage High School said.

The experience was thanks to a group of PHS students.

Geise has been color blind since birth. He doesn't see the world in black and white, but before last week he didn't know the difference between blue and purple, and couldn't really relate to magenta.

"All these years we have been in the theater, he has given to us, and we wanted to give back to him," PHS senior Jessica Cretors said.

The idea to purchase Geise Enchroma glasses, which help the color blind see colors in all their brilliance, actually started last year with an effort by PHS senior Logan Munoz, Cretors said. This year they resurrected the idea with the help of fellow students Diana Wilson and Faith Costro.

The students raised over $375, and when they held a meeting to choose the next musical production, the students gave him the glasses, along with a special card.

Geise said he first realized he had a color deficiency in first grade when a girl was assigned to help him work with colors.

It made him feel "stupid," he said, adding he adapted over the years, wearing clothing in only black, white and gray shades along with blue jeans.

There were also issues with traffic signals, where he became dependent on their placement instead of colors — an issue he occasionally had, especially when he was pulled over by police for mistaking a traffic light for a street light.

He said he was also dependent upon the students when it came to picking out colors for stage scenery and props and setting up lighting.

The gift from the students touched his heart. When he put on the glasses, Geise said colors "popped." Stepping outside for the first time with the glasses, he said he saw the blue of the sky contrasting with the with other colors.

"The sky was so blue, so much more vibrant," he said.

"I was never blessed with my own children. They make up for that absence," Geise said of his theater students. "I can't tell you how touched I was for the students to do something like this for me. This is a remarkable group of kids."

"It feels amazing," Cretors said of the ability to give Geise the gift of color. "He can now see the world as a whole like he wants us to see."


Porter County reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for more than 38 years, including 23 years with The Times. She covers municipal and school government in Valparaiso and Portage.