Colton Meets Jeff Gordon

BAKERSFIELD, CA. (May 2002) - - Colton Meyer, a 5-year-old Bakersfield boy with a rare eye disease, was able to set his sights on something he will never forget on the last weekend in April. He spent the weekend with his family at California Speedway in Fontana, not just to watch the race but to meet Jeff Gordon.

"My favorite thing is the hat that he gave to me," said Colton. He played a round of thumb wrestling with Gordon and received some words of advice from the NASCAR superstar. "I'm gonna remember that he said to eat my vegetables," Colton said. From signed hats and t-shirts to toy cars and priceless photos, he has plenty to remember his NASCAR idol by.

Colton has retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic disease that could cause blindness. There is no known cure but there is promising research on the horizon. Approximately 100,000 to 200,000 Americans have retinitis pigmentosa, but few people are familiar with it, according to The Foundation for Fighting Blindness. Colton's mother, Laura Robbie, made an appeal to the community to send her son photographs while he still has his eyesight and to donate funds to The Foundation for Fighting Blindness. The response to the scrapbook has been overwhelming. "We've been just overwhelmed," his mother said. "He loves to go to the P.O. box and to get all the letters." She is using many of the photographs to make collages and scrapbooks for Colton.

In addition to photographs from California, Oklahoma, North Carolina, China, India and elsewhere, Colton receives letters of love from people promising they are praying for him and care about him. "It's a strange feeling to know that complete strangers love your child," she said. "It's a bad thing that's happening to my son, but it's a good thing for society. It's almost like it's restoring our faith in humankind." Colton's scrapbook has continued to grow over the past year. "We enjoy the pictures-- we do-- but we want people to donate money (to the foundation)," Robbie said. She does not, however, want people to send her money. She said she has received more than $1,000 and has sent all of it back. She has forwarded checks made out to The Foundation for Fighting Blindness. The foundation funds research for finding a cure for causes of blindness. "It's clear for anyone who has a child with a disease like this, time is ticking," said Tom Hoglund, communications director for the foundation. "Stories tend to pull a lot of people's heartstrings, but some go for their purse strings. There are all sorts of promising things that we're working on. We're really depending on donations from the public to make things happen."

Monetary donations for research should be sent to:

The Foundation for Fighting Blindness
11435 Cronhill Drive
Owings Mills, MD 21117

Special thanks to Laura (Colton's mom) for sending the following photos:

+Jeff and Colton | +Bronson chats with Jeff | +Colton thumb wrestles Jeff

+Hanging out in the transporter | +Colton and his family with Jeff

+Jimmie Johnson stops by to meet Colton

July 1, 2002

To the racing community,

Thank you for reading Colton's story and taking my son into your hearts. I appreciate the loads of mail we have received and the love you have shown to my son. If we all pull together with a fundraiser for the Foundation for Fighting Blindness, Colton would most likely retain his sight. Thanks to DuPont, NASCAR, and the Jeff Gordon Foundation for embracing my son's story and making him feel special. Very special thanks to Kevin Harvick for taking the time to send the autographed diecast car, as well as to the numerous race fans of who have sent memorabilia to our family. God bless you all for your kindness.
Laura Robbie

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