Visionary Artist Elijah Overcomes All Obstacles
Elijah has always had an artist mind, and he hasn’t let his diagnosis with Stargardt disease hold him back from his passion for creating art.
16-year-old Philadelphia resident Elijah Osborne has an extraordinary artistic mind. Elijah was adopted at an early age and has faced, and continues to face, many challenges throughout his young life. As a way to cope, Elijah started drawing when he was only 4 years old and hasn’t stopped since.
“He has the ability to tap into the creative side of his brain so easily,” says Elijah’s mom, Lenora. “It’s always amazing when he puts his work on paper. He has a lot of artistic talent.”
Elijah’s passion for art is very apparent to those that know him. He loves to use a variety of mediums, such as drawing and music, and especially enjoys using his graphics tablet. Lenora has kept Elijah growing by enrolling him in schools that focus on his creative abilities and include strong art programs. Elijah even won ‘Art Student of the Year’ during his first year at his middle school.
In April 2016, Elijah was dealt another adversity when he was diagnosed with Stargardt disease. Lenora made sure that Elijah was immediately genetically tested, and she started researching retinal diseases. In her exploration, Lenora found the Foundation Fighting Blindness as a resource and attended the Foundation’s national VISIONS conference in 2016 to learn all that she could.
“As a mom, I felt an overwhelming feeling of helplessness when Elijah was first diagnosed,” says Lenora. “But from learning more, I also felt encouraged for his future.”
Lenora and Elijah have also been participating with their local Philadelphia VisionWalk as team “Wolf Pack” for the last two years and hope to continue their involvement for years to come. Elijah even designed the Philadelphia team t-shirts for the 2019 VisionWalk.
“I try to expose him to other people with visual impairments,” says Lenora. “He doesn’t like to be the center of attention, so sharing his story isn’t easy for him. But it helps with his confidence and he’s coming out of his shell more every day.”
Generally, Lenora describes Elijah as extremely intellectual, but not very talkative, especially when it comes to his diagnosis with Stargardt disease. But Elijah continues to use his devotion for art to stay strong and it speaks volumes. In the future, Elijah hopes to pursue a career as a graphic designer.
“I cherish my visually abilities while I have them,” says Elijah. “Art will always be my outlet to express myself since it’s hard for me to express how I feel in words.”