Imagine having normal vision, then, one day, you can barely see. Brielle Corrente was a cheerleader, and a dancer, and was doing well in school. Everything was going well for the 14 year old, and then her life changed forever, overnight.
“I woke up one morning and it was like opening up your eyes under water. It was blurry and cloudy and it was dark. I didn’t know what was wrong,” she remembers.
Brielle ended up in Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, but, she says it took two years before doctor’s figured out she had optic neuritis, swelling of the optic nerve. It carries light signals from the back of your eye to your brain, so you can see.
She says, “I received so much damage from it my optic nerves were completely damaged. I lost much of my vision in both of my eyes, but I also suffered color blindness.”
Her world flipped upside down. To Brielle, the sky became green, and the grass became blue. It was a difficult couple of years for her.
“There was a lot of tears there was a lot of heartache, things that I loved to do were no longer able to be in my life, such as dancing and cheerleading. You lose all of your vision, you lose your balance too,” she explains.
The experience changed her perspective, not only physically, but also emotionally. She discovered she had a story to tell, and she decided to write a book for children. “Finding the Color in My Black and White World.”
Instead of a nasty illness, a nasty witch casts a spell that takes away the color in the princess’s world. We won’t give away the happy ending, but just like the princess in her book, Brielle learned to make her world colorful again, and she became a different kind of princess.
She says, “So many things have come from this, such as earning the title of Miss Teen Pennsylvania in which I promoted my platform of overcoming adversity, such as these diseases I was facing in my life.”
Brielle won the Miss Teen Pennsylvania International crown in 2014. During her reign, she told her story across the state, spreading the message that you can overcome your obstacles, you don’t have to let them define you.
Much of her vision has returned, but she’s still colorblind.
“There are days when I walk out of the house with one black shoe and one brown shoe. My roommates, people I go with to school, they’re like you gotta change, but it’s just something that we laugh about now.”
Brielle is now in college in Pittsburgh studying to become a physician’s assistant, a career she decided to pursue as a result of her experience.