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81-year-old senior given eyesight to live out his dream of seeing Leafs

Eric MacDonald tries on his new pair of eSight glasses, gifted to him through not-for-profit charity We Are Young. Bill Barker/Global News

They say the third time’s the charm and that rings true for a Halifax man who has finally made it to a Toronto Maple Leafs game after postponements since March 2020 when the world hit the pause button due to COVID-19.

“About a week ago I took a hitter and banged my knees up pretty good and they’re still sore and I still said to myself, I don’t care what happens, if they have to wheel me up there in a wheelchair or a stretcher, I’m going anyways,” smiles Eric MacDonald as he sits in the lobby of the Fairmount Royal York Hotel.

MacDonald brought along his grandson Matthew, who is his rival, a Boston Bruins fan.

The tip to Ontario’s capital city was made possible by We Are Young, a Nova Scotia-based not-for-profit charity that grants wishes to seniors.

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“We grant these wishes to change the way that society views and values our oldest generation, but it is also an opportunity to give back to that selfless generation,” explains Katie Mahoney, a co-founder of We Are Young.

But the wish doesn’t stop there. MacDonald, who lost his sight in 2010 due to a chronic eye disorder, was excited to just listen to the game, while taking in those common arena smells, crisp ice and popcorn.

But now he will be able to see the game with eSight glasses, something he’s kept his eye on for several years but didn’t have the money for them.

According to eSight’s website, the device assists people with low vision by “stimulating synaptic activity from the remaining photoreceptor function of the user’s eyes” and maximizing the visual information provided to the brain.

“I said if I could get those glasses, talk to my wife about it, if we could raise the money somehow and get those glasses, it would change everything for me,” MacDonald said.

The Toronto-based company and the charity are donating the glasses to the senior, who is known for his work alongside the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) in Halifax. MacDonald was reduced to tears when he learned he would now be able to see those most important to him.

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“Family comes first for me, my wife would be first and my sons and daughters and then my grandkids,” MacDonald said. “It’s hard to talk about.”

Not to mention, the senior is getting back a little of his independence and is excited to get back outside.

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“I could go fishing now without the glasses, but I would be sticking my fingers with the hooks all the time. I tried that, too, and it did happen that I stuck my finger but anyways my most favourite thing of all was to go hunting,” MacDonald joked, while assuring Global News he wouldn’t be using a gun.

But before MacDonald gets out into the forest, he has a game to catch and with more than 60 years of armchair experience, says he knows exactly how things will shake out.

“They’ll have a five-minute overtime, 3-3, and they’ll go to a shootout and Auston (Matthews) will turn around and get the final goal,” added MacDonald, while grinning from ear to ear.

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