His son's pupils twitched rapidly, rotating from side to side. Doctors eventually diagnosed Trenton Ramshaw with rotary nystagmus, caused by congenital stationary night blindness. Doctors told the family Trenton would never live a normal life.
"They're telling you the worst it could be is the way it's going to be," Kyle said.
Trenton turns 11 today, on 11-11-11. He was born just before 11:11 p.m.
A "normal" life is all in the eye of the beholder.
Trenton, a fifth-grader at PORTA Elementary School in Petersburg, is still legally blind and has his fourth surgery scheduled for January, but he excels in school, loves games and runs around like his peers, his father said. He plans to celebrate Saturday at the City Museum in St. Louis, one of his favorite places. He picked the closer destination over the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago because he'll be able to take four friends to St. Louis.
Kyle Ramshaw endured sleepless nights, worrying that his son would never be independent. But he never believed the doctors who said his son couldn't see anything.
"He'd perk up when you walked into the room," Ramshaw said.
Since 2006, Kyle has been the primary caretaker for his two children. Trenton has an 8-year-old sister, Madison, who also has vision problems. Throughout the children's lives, Kyle has had to drive them to hospitals in Chicago and St. Louis. He sacrificed so much to give his children the best possible life, said his brother, Kelvin Ramshaw of Riverton.
Doctors said Trenton's condition couldn't improve. They said he'd never ride a bike.
"Never going to be able to ride a bike? That's tough to tell a kid," Kyle said.
So he bought his son a miniature horse. Trenton not only fell in love with animals, but he learned how to ride, his father said. He now enjoys bike riding, and he received an electric scooter for his birthday.
Trenton also loves four-wheeling and rides with the Riverbottom Rejects, a club in Riverton. There's even hope from doctors that Trenton will drive one day, according to Kyle, though he'd be allowed behind the wheel only during daylight.
Trenton beat the odds because he's an intuitive child, his uncle said. When he can't do something one way, he figures out another way.
"He's just like any other kid," Kelvin added. "He doesn't realize that he's sacrificing because he does it. He just has to do it another way.
"Because of the way Kyle stuck with it, (Trenton) doesn't really have to do without."
When Trenton played baseball at age 7, he decided he didn't want to use a batting tee, even though he couldn't see the ball coming.
"All my other friends were getting pitched to, and I felt bad," Trenton said, so he learned to watch the pitcher's arm and earned three hits in his last game, bringing his father to tears. Playing the outfield proved tougher for Trenton, but when he played, his dad stood with him, keeping him safe.
Trenton said it feels good to keep proving the doctors wrong.
Success in school
"It's been an amazing trip," Kelvin Ramshaw said.
Trenton attended the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired in Jacksonville for two years before he was able to attend public school.
Math and science are his favorite subjects, and the Ramshaws were planning to attend an honors assembly today at PORTA, during which Trenton was to be among the recognized students.
He may only be turning 11, but Trenton's already looking to the future. He said he'd like to be a police officer so he can help other people.
To his family, he's already a hero.
"His outlook has always been bright and cheery," Kelvin said. "He is a shining example of the attitude that more people should have when facing hardships or obstacles."