Dallas ISD Teen Overcomes Vision Challenges to Become Drum Major of Marching Band

Rafael Martinez says his eye condition has never stopped him from turning his dreams into a reality.

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A tenacious teenager from Dallas ISD is proving that his disease will not define his goals in life.

Rafael Martinez is a senior at Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship Academy (IDEA) in Dallas.

When Martinez was 11 years old, he was diagnosed with Stargardt disease, a form of macular degeneration in youth. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, that means he's slowly losing his ability to see. His central vision is severely impaired but his peripheral vision is stronger.

Despite challenges with his eyesight, Martinez has continued to follow his dreams. This school year, he landed the coveted role of drum major of his marching band.

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In a feature article posted recently, Martinez told DISD that by using the music beats and timing, he's able to keep count, memorize the steps and position himself while leading his band mates through a performance.

Martinez plays multiple instruments including the drums, french horn, trumpet and guitar. He plans to attend Jackson State University to study music education with goals of becoming a music director or producer.

He says his eyesight and his vision for the future are two different things -- his eye condition has never stopped him from turning his dreams into a reality.

Click here to read more about Martinez' journey.

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