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Coast to Coast for the FFB: OUR MOTIVATION...


Many of you have met my very good friend Robert “Rebus” Bonning. The two of us met in high school back in 1991, and have been great friends ever since. He is an awesome guy with a huge heart, and he can make me laugh out loud like no one else.

When I first met Rebus, I learned he was “night-blind” which meant that his eyes took about ten times as long as the average eye to adjust to low-lighting. I can remember him struggling with it around the beautiful, yet dim, campus of our high school. He was almost never without his little flashlight, although I think he often conveniently “forgot” his flashlight when it meant a girl in our class would be leading him around by the hand! Our group of friends quickly learned to keep an eye on Rebus when out at night; it is amazing how large seemingly little obstacles can become to a person who finds themselves to be “blind” for a 12 hour period each day. Overall, Rebus learned to deal with it well. He knew his limits and seemed to manage.

After four years of high school, we all went off to different colleges. We saw a lot of each other then too, but only on breaks from schools throughout the years. Over time it became obvious that Rebus’ vision was getting worse, but worse in a different way. Not only was he still struggling with low-lighting situations, but he was now experiencing limited peripheral vision in broad daylight. After several attempts to diagnose the problems, Rebus finally found a specialist of these symptoms of the eye.

Rebus and his fiancée Nic (she's now his wife!).

In the year 2000, Rebus was formally diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP). This is a disease that causes the degeneration of photoreceptor cells in the retina. Photoreceptor cells capture and process light; as these cells degenerate and die, patients experience progressive vision loss. As the disease progresses and more cells degenerate, patients lose their peripheral vision.

The doctor told Rebus the facts and what to expect. I specifically remember Rebus telling me words and phrases like “No known cure,” “Genetics,” “you shouldn’t drive,” “Surgery may help, but not permanently,” and the most shocking “expect to lose 7% of your field of vision every year.”

Since then, Rebus has been dealing with RP. To the outsider, dealing with it often amounts to the “little” things. He no longer drives. Sometimes he’ll miss the opportunity to shake someone’s hand because their hand is outside of his limited peripheral vision. He’ll miss the wave of a friend on the street. But it is much more than just that to Rebus. Despite all that, he has a great attitude about it all.

Jeff, Mac and Rebus (7/3/04).

Currently, Rebus has adapted well to his deficiencies in vision, and is a graduate student studying geography at the University of Hawaii. He gets around town via bus, his bike, and his personal chauffeur (AKA his fiancé Nic). Seeing him adapt to his deficiencies has motivated both Anne Katherine and I to help Rebus and others with similar vision problems. What better way is there to achieve that other than spreading awareness about RP, raising as much money as we can for the cause and of course, pedaling like crazy!

Please take a moment to donate today!


Photos Starring Rebus when he Joined us in Oregon!

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