East Tennessee girl doesn’t let vision loss make her lose sight of her goals

Grace Bumpus is losing her sight, but Brazilian Jujitsu is helping her keep sight of herself.
Grace Bumpus is losing her sight, but Brazilian Jujitsu is helping her keep sight of herself.
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 8:38 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - When Grace Bumpus was three years old her parents, Scott and Kelly, took their daughter to her regular eye exam.

“That doctor said ‘I see something I don’t like, I want her to see someone,’” recalled Kelly Bumpus. “At the time they said ‘your kid is going to be blind, good luck there’s not much we can do.’”

The diagnosis was Leber Congenital Amaurosis, a rare disorder that would slowly steal Grace’s vision.

“Everything was so much harder than it used to be. Why do I have to go through that?’” Grace said.

Eventually Grace will lose all of her sight.

“Grace was in therapy. She was depressed, struggling a lot, not eating, struggling with going to school,” said Scott.

Her dad suggested Grace try Brazilian Jujitsu with Coach Amy Coleman.

“I could tell she was a little scared and I was nervous too,” said Coleman. It was a turning point for Grace. “After working with her for like an hour I was like ‘this is what I want to do. I am capable, I can do this just as well as anyone else,’” she said.

“That was Grace’s last week in therapy. It has completely changed her from a confidence level and what she is able to do now is completely different,” Scott said.

As her vision continues to give up on Grace, she isn’t ready to do the same. “I have to get back up. I don’t have a choice,” she said.

She turns her pain into purpose.

Barely two years since her fist lesson, Grace entered her first Jiu Jitsu tournament, competing against full-sighted people and won.

“I was surprised; Amy was not, she was like ‘I told you that was going to happen,’” Grace said.

There’s no cure and no treatment for Grace’s blindness, though doctors are inching closer to finding one. Grace said she’d turn it down.

“I don’t think there is anything I’m missing out on. I have a wonderfully full life and a lot of opportunity,” she said.

“That purpose to keep moving. To go show the world what you can do,” said Grace. The saving grace that is saving Grace.