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Heinen's employees, community help gift legally blind co-worker with glasses that allow her to see

Posted at 6:00 PM, Dec 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-18 18:00:19-05

A legally blind Heinen’s worker has been given the gift of sight thanks to the help of her co-workers.

Katie-Lynn Bruening, 27, was born with Wagner’s syndrome, a hereditary disease that causes vision loss. She has been legally blind since birth and was diagnosed with glaucoma at age 12.

“I was running into walls, I had glasses when I was 2 years old,” Katie explained.

For the last five years, she’s been a fixture at the Heinen’s Cafe in Chardon, coming to the grocery store through a jobs program.

“Very well loved. She is such a likable girl, it’s amazing. It’s a blessing for us and for her,” said store director Lorie Kazan.

So well loved that when the workers found out that Katie and her family were quietly raising money for an eSight Reader, a specialized pair of glasses that help the legally blind and vision-impaired see, they knew they had to help.

The glasses come with a promise — and a price tag of $10,000.

The store raffled off tickets to a gift basket, raising nearly $3,000. The Metzenbaum Foundation, plus Katie’s family and friends, helped cover the rest of the cost.

“To know that we could be a part of this life-changing event for her, it’s just been one of those things that I know you get to only feel it once or twice in your whole life,” Kazan said.

“It’s going to make so much of a difference because I’m going from not seeing to seeing,” Katie said. “It’s like a miracle happened.”

It's a gift that will keep on giving and Katie is now asking for more responsibilities at the store.

“She’s already asking me if she can do more stuff,” Kazan said. “She wants to make the coffee now, she wants to work behind the salad bar now. She wants to spread her wings more now.”

eSight works by using a high-definition camera to capture photos of what the person is looking at, then displaying it on an OLED screen inside the glasses.