BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Ashlei is a shy 11-year-old who hides from the world by combing her long hair over her face.
She has suffered from glaucoma her entire life, making her blind in her right eye. Ophthalmologist Dr. Joseph Chang keeps a close watch on Ashlei at his nonprofit clinic Advanced Center for Eyecare. His dream is to help Ashlei get surgery and a prosthetic eye to replace the blind eye.
Recently, ACE and the Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired held a fundraiser, where Ashlei's story was shown to the public for the first time. At that event, Jose Arredondo, owner of Family Motors, was so moved by Ashlei's struggle that he immediately stepped into help.
"I got up, and I got the chills, and I got up and said, 'Doctor, I am going to donate $10,000 so you can go ahead and do the operation on this young gal,'" said Arredondo.
On Tuesday, Ashlei was introduced to the Arredondo family, and she was given the good news that they are making her surgery possible.
Ashlei said knowing her surgery is within reach, she already feels more confident. Describing the generous donation as "awesome," the shy girl let her gratitude light up her bright smile.
"I would like to thank them for what they donated and Dr. Chang, too, and ACE, too," said Ashlei.
Ashlei's surgery hasn't been scheduled yet, but we'll keep following her and let you know how she is doing.