As he traced his fingers across a copy of the painting, “George Washington Crossing the Delaware,” at a convention for the blind last year, Luc Gandarias was astonished to feel a sword hanging at Washington’s side and a river swimming with chunks of ice. He could even tell that the soldiers in the boat were determined to reach shore by the intense expression in their eyes.
“It was the most vivid thing I’ve felt since I lost my sight,” says Luc, 12, of Whidbey Island, Washington, who went blind at age 7 due to a sudden case of hydrocephalus. “It had texture and such incredible detail that I almost felt like I was there.”
“I thought I would go the rest of my life without seeing something beautiful like this,” he tells PEOPLE. “But now, I don’t have to.”