By Mike Beas
If attitude does indeed equate to altitude, Morgan Estes is destined to continue rising above challenges.
Estes, a senior at Brownsburg High School equipped with an ID Cane and a never-settle persona, tends to persevere far more often than not.
Diagnosed with Bardet-Biedl Syndrome, a rare congenital disease, as a 6-year-old, Estes possesses limited eyesight, but absolutely no shortage of optimism.
“I just think it’s a lot easier to be positive,” said Estes, 17. “Being at Brownsburg, I would say it’s probably one of the better schools when it comes to being a blind student. It’s been a great experience.”
Legally blind since 2017, Estes, who is gradually losing her peripheral vision and struggles to see at night, forges ahead in life with no plans of slowing down.
Bardet-Biedl Syndrome affects one in every 140,000-160,000 newborns in North America.
And yet, there’s Estes, her 4.278 grade-point average earning her induction to her school’s National Honor Society. Additionally, she’s in her 12th and final year of being a member of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir.
Estes’s parents, John and Lexie, have found themselves inspired by the continued resilience of the younger of their two children (older brother, Gabe, is 21).
“Initially, I would say there was definitely a bit of a grieving process,” said Lexie Estes, referring to Morgan’s initial diagnosis more than a decade ago. “But pretty quickly, we moved into, ‘OK, this is what we have to deal with, and we’re going to support Morgan to achieve whatever she wants to do.’
“We didn’t want her disability to hold her back.”
Seemingly, nothing has.
Morgan, who began to learn braille while in middle school (but doesn’t normally use it in a classroom setting), is looking at eventually continuing her academic pursuits at one of three universities – Maryland, Indiana or George Mason.
Her goal is to study biology, go onto graduate school and eventually work as a genetic counselor.
“I want to do that career because when my parents first knew of my diagnosis, they sat down with a genetic counselor,” said Morgan. “I want to be able to do that for people, too.”
Wherever she attends college, Morgan hopes to continue having her voice heard.
“I definitely want to still do choir in college,” she said. “It helps with my stress levels, and just makes me happy.”
In time, Morgan’s parents will move to whatever city their daughter attends college.
Wherever the family ends up, it’s the continuation of a story of a young lady who adamantly refuses to let fate – or anything else, for that matter – place a ceiling on her potential.
“I’m super proud of her positive attitude,” said Lexie Estes. “Morgan is pretty fearless, and has never been afraid to try something. I think John and I have tried to not shelter her. To give her as many opportunities as any other kid would have while growing up.”
One of Morgan’s teachers, Ruby Sopke, summed it up well: “Throughout her time in our school, she has consistently demonstrated her ability to overcome challenges with grace and perseverance. Her unwavering resolve to succeed, irrespective of her visual impairment, is truly remarkable.”