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Legally blind Leafs fan sees Friday’s game with eSight4 glasses

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Hockey Night in Canada just got better for one happy fan.

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Eric MacDonald saw the Leafs game against Boston on Friday night. The last time he saw his beloved team play live, he says, Philadelphia Flyer Ron Hextall was a rookie.

It’s better than 30 years ago.

“And we sat in the nosebleed section,” MacDonald said.

Watching the Maple Leafs again – ever – is more than just a logistical problem for the Halifax resident. MacDonald began losing his sight about 12 years ago.

He is legally blind.

Now, thanks to We Are Young, a Nova Scotia nonprofit that grants wishes to seniors, and eSight vision-enhancing glasses, MacDonald has traveled to Toronto to see the Leafs at Scotiabank Arena.

And he will “see” them.

At 78, the father of four children suffers from low vision. For years, MacDonald followed the Leafs on the radio, retaining his encyclopedic knowledge of the team’s every move despite his inability to watch them play.

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We Are Young heard about his predicament and partnered with eSight to grant his wish to attend a Leafs game – with an eSight 4 device, allowing him to actually see it.

The eSight 4 is a fully wearable scope that improves sight involving a high-definition, high-speed camera, two OLED screens and various technologies to capture and display a real-time video stream.

For those with central vision loss, like MacDonald, the eSight device is miraculous.

Eric MacDonald, 78, uses an eSight 4 device in preparation to watch the Maple Leafs game Friday night. Jack Boland/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network

As you’d expect, it’s also expensive, selling for several thousand dollars.

MacDonald’s big adventure in Toronto has been postponed more than once in the two years of COVID, but he finally arrived here on Friday before the game.

He is traveling with his adult grandson, Mathew Smith.

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In a recent interview, MacDonald opened up about his vision loss, explaining that he lives on a rural property outside of Halifax and had to give up hunting a few years ago.

He said he tried to get into knitting and spent time beading at a local community center. It was there that he met someone from We Are Young who suggested he submit his wish to see the Leafs live.

“I said, ‘I don’t think I’ve ever won anything like this. I really wasn’t expecting anything. When they told me I was chosen, I told my wife right away.

“Who would have thought that little Eric would arrive in Upper Canada? laughed MacDonald.

He is delighted to be in Toronto.

” We will have lots of fun ! If we can just get tickets to the baseball game, we’ll all be set.

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(Thanks to Adam Felton, head of baseball communications for the Blue Jays, MacDonald and Mathew now have tickets to Saturday’s home game against the Houston Astros. Who knows Toronto is a cold city?)

Asked about the use of the eSight 4 unit, MacDonald said: “The most important thing with glasses is being able to see my wife.

“And I guess I better say my grandkids too – I better put a plug for them,” he said with a laugh.

“I’m really lucky.”

Eric MacDonald discovered on Friday that the eSight 4 unit he is using in Toronto this weekend is his, a gift from the Toronto-based company eSight.

Friday’s hockey game may be the first he’s seen in a long time, but it won’t be the last.

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