Shelby Perry, the founder, and creator of Eyehesive, knows firsthand the value and importance of turning negatives into positives and being a force for good. “One strong determined day at a time” is a quote by which Shelby abides and one that constantly reminds her just how to do it. Megan Webber, the co-Founder of KnowTheGlow, was overwhelmed by Shelby’s candid story of both sobriety and surviving a crushing snowboarding accident. Shelby grew up with her family in Salt Lake City spending the winter months on skis and snowboards. At the start of the pandemic, Covid-19 threw a wrench in her life as it did for so many people but for Shelby, it was also an opportunity to move to San Diego and begin her focused journey to sobriety. In San Diego she had a friend who helped her get established and through AA she made many contacts including several snowboarders who would travel to Salt Lake City to ride.
It was one fateful trip in 2021 that changed everything for Shelby. Shelby and three of her friends were going to the beautiful Snowbird resort to snowboard. Shelby grew up in the area and knew the trails well. There had been an incredible snowfall and Shelby had never seen so much snow. Over the past three years, Shelby had begun wearing her helmet religiously, something which had rarely been part of her boarding protocol growing up. Shelby told Megan that had she not been wearing that helmet, hers would have been a completely different story and outcome. That day, however, Shelby and her friends were focused on getting one last run in before heading back to San Diego and were thrilled to be the “first tracks” down the run after such perfect powder and snowfall. It was this run that turned out to be their last run. She was in a snowboarding accident. She was completely conscious but was in a surreal state. Unsure as to what was injured she knew something was wrong. Thankfully for the helmet that dutifully protected her head, she sustained no damage to her brain, but the goggles did not. her eye was clearly punctured and there was considerable bleeding. Her friends split up, some staying with her during the duration while the others went to get help.
Fortunately, they were not far away from ski patrol and they received help rather quickly. Shelby was so touched that both the ski patrolman and the paramedic who attended to her sent her a sweet note checking in on her after seeing the story that she later posted on Buzzfeed. They wrote that the lead paramedic came across the story and wanted to write to her because they so rarely get to know what happens after they rescue people and seeing her article was so reassuring knowing that she was doing okay.
Shelby was very fortunate as she was taken immediately to Moran Eye Center, one of the best eye centers in the country. She underwent two surgeries; one that very night to stitch up the hole in her eye and a second two days later to work on the back of her eye. The surgeons were hoping to save her vision as well as her eye so they left her left eye in place. To make matters worse, Shelby wasn’t the only member of her family to be hospitalized. Her father was in the hospital for different reasons at the same time. Shelby’s mother flew up from Arizona along with Shelby’s friends and her brother who stayed with her the entire week until she was strong enough to fly back to San Diego.
Once back in San Diego, she saw the eye specialist at Shiley Eye Institute who could more closely examine the back of the eye post-surgery. A month and a half after the accident she still had no vision and was told she needed to have the eye removed immediately. They were concerned about a condition that can sometimes occur after eye injuries that can be detrimental to the vision of the unaffected eye. She was grateful that the doctor made this decision for her as her eye had been shrinking and was discolored. Mentally she was in a dark and fearful place so having the decision made was a gift as she was ready to feel better and wanted the eye out. Coincidentally, the day before her eye removal was the anniversary of her sobriety. Shelby confessed to Megan that she was in a better place getting her eye removed compared to what she’d endured getting sober. After surgery, her mother came to town to help her and she remembers going for walks and feeling physically okay. She noticed a subtle shift in how she felt in her body. It felt as if her body had been pouring so much energy into healing her eye that now without it her body no longer needed to worry about healing her eye. She felt worlds better.
Shelby had a lot of downtime during this period after the eye removal. On her page, she wanted to start sharing journal entries. It was this initial start on her page which gave birth to her idea for Eyehesive. Everyone was supportive and so sweet in her community that she realized if she had not had that positive feedback it would have been so much harder. This online community saved her life. It can be emotionally and mentally hard to be without a support system, especially while trying to maintain sobriety.
Shelby had seen a video of Jarrett Stod on Youtube and had seen other Tiktok videos, but she wasn’t finding a lot of resources or stories. She originally called her blog “Eye will be there” and its mission was to simply share other people’s stories. She started with her story and then almost immediately people began reaching out to her. The first story was from a man who lost his eye in a fireworks accident but then there was an outpouring and steady stream of stories. She confessed to Megan that she didn’t know anything about retinoblastoma or the glow or even that people sometimes had to have enucleations due to those vision conditions before she started Eyehesive. Shelby acknowledged that the families that she has since connected with appreciated the support and validation and also recognized the vital support that KTG provides for these families around the world. Shelby also tried to provide one-on-one help for the families that reached out to her.
Shelby has shared a story every single week since she began her mission and has not missed a single week in 74 weeks. Shelby has even been able to embrace adults who did not have any way to share their stories allowing them to feel comfortable enough now to speak out about their eye loss.
Megan marvels that Shelby is a constant fountain of ideas and projects. She is fabricating a performance eye patch so that adults can have more options as well as trying to formulate the right fabric for sports/athletics. Shelby has also collaborated with several other eyes lost survivors on the “You are Perfect” video in hopes of empowering those young and old to embrace their eye lost and prosthetic eyes. https://www.facebook.com/reel/1076013523065894
This past October, Shelby hosted a virtual conference with speakers from within the community which was so successful that she will soon be hosting another event near the end of April. Shelby is hoping to continue to provide resources to families dealing with vision loss and through becoming acquainted with KTG sees how KnowTheGlow is a great place to send people who want more information on glow-related conditions.
Shelby has been a yoga instructor for five years now and has managed a sober living facility with Eyehesive as her primary focus. This February will mark two years since beginning her mission to help others share their stories in a compassionate environment. Shelby is a testament to the value of putting one foot in front of the other and finding a path through even some of life’s toughest challenges. It was an honor for Megan to speak with Shelby and KTG is excited to see more possible creative ways to collaborate with “superheroes” like Shelby who are helping show children how to be more comfortable with their differences and confident about their experiences.
For more information on Eyehesive visit their website. https://www.eyehesive.com