Tucker Dupree

Kourtney, Jess, Ashley, Abbi, Maya, Haleigh, Abby


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Introduction

We decided that it would be really cool to make a wikispace page dedicated to him. When he came to speak to us…let’s just say all the girls were swooned by his charm and good looks, and even though they didn’t want to admit it…the guys were kinda jealous. Anyways, our page for him is full of interesting facts, pictures, websites and much more. So, comment if you want…give some other facts if we missed any but I warn you we are a bunch of teenage girls so there is most likely very little that we missed. Enjoy.

Profile

Tucker Dupree was born on May 11, 1989 in Raleigh, North Carolina. He started swimming on a competitive level for RSA (Raleigh Swimming Association) when he was a freshman in high school which was in 2004. In October of 2006 Tucker noticed that he couldn’t see the cool batman sticker on his closet door from his bed in the morning. After visiting the ER at three in the morning and multiple other doctors and specialist he was diagnosed with Lebers Hereditary Optic Neuropathy in November of 2006. Although the doctors told him that he would be totally blind in the next six months but he is going on three years and has about 20% vision left. Tucker said that he always referred to his disease as a “speed bump” in his life and nothing more and definitely not something that would stop him from doing all the things he loves in his life. He continued swimming and in his senior year at Garner High School he was captain and MVP of the swim team. When he graduated in 2007 he had honors and went to Wake Tech Community College in Raleigh to be close to home in case anything happened to him. Amazingly in 2008 Tucker swam in the Paralympic Games in Bejing. He swam in six different events and although not receiving a gold metal he said he was proud of have represented the country and it just gave him something to work towards in the 2012 Paralympic games. Although being mostly blind Tucker is still able to hang out with his friends, play the piano, travel and hang out with his family. Tucker said that the one thing

Tucker Dupree was diagnosed with Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy after waking up one morning with blurry vision. This is a permanent disease and there is no cure. He has 40% in one eye and 20% in the other. Its pretty amazing how at age 19 he was already one of the top paralympic swimmers in the world. He became a competitive swimmer during his freshman year in high school (2004). Despite his what happened to him he was named caption of the swim team as a senior and MVP. Right now he is currently at Wake Tech Community college.


About Leber's Hereditary Optic Neuropathy:

Tucker Dupree has Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy which is passed down from a mother to her child. This diseases causes a loss of retinal ganglion cells that leads to a loss of central vision. Since this is passed down from a mother to her child, Tucker cannot pass this on if he has kids. Normally when this disease starts to take place there is a small loss of vision in one eye, followed by a small loss of vision in the other a few weeks or even months later.


Tucker Dupree was diagnosed with Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy. After waking up one morning with blurry vision. This is permanent and there is no cure. He has 40% in one eye and 20% in the other. Its pretty amazing how at age 19 he was already one of the top swimmers in the world. He became a competitive swimmer during his freshman year in high school (2004). Despite his what happened to him he was named caption of the swim team as a senior and MVP. Right now he is currently at Wake Tech Community collage.

Quotes by Tucker Dupree:


"This can't slow me down. It's like there are too many good things and swimming was just pushing me through it."

"I have my friends and family, swimming, that kind of pulls me through it"

"I still wake up everyday with a smile on my face. Just get in the water and just swim."

“I've never been depressed on my loss of sight. I've never been upset. It's who I am now and I don't know if I would change it."

“As long as I put my 100 percent effort in, that's what I'm happy with."

Tucker has a talking alarm clock to tell him what time it is, "Her name is Betty." He gave an example of when she speaks,"The time is 4 o'clock."

Tucker does not let his vision loss stop him from reading but he does use a tool to help him, "I have 80% loss. All I see is peripheral. I have a 14x pocket magnifier, that's how I read my cell phone text messages."

On the issue of driving it must have been tough for tucker to only drive for a short period of time but he handled it with great maturity, "One day I noticed I could not see stop lights in both lights, I knew when to stop and go by seeing what cars around me are doing. I thought to myself, this isn't safe. I drove into my driveway and put the car in park and looked in rear view mirror and I realized it would be the last day I ever sat in driver's seat with keys in my hand and drove. I went inside the kitchen, put the keys and my driver's license on table and slid them to my mom and told her I can't drive any more. It was the day I had to turn in my independence."

Interview with Tucker at Cary Academy:

Below are PERSONAL thoughts and opinions about our "interview" with Tucker Dupree.

1. When we met with Tucker this morning, I felt from that moment my mind state would change about people with different challenges. When he began to speak to us about his story, and how he got to where he is now. I felt truly empowered by his words, and how emotionally stable he was from the start with his disability. For someone to go through life and be as strong as him takes a ton of courage and integrity. I truly enjoyed this experience.

2. When Tucker came to talk to us today I found it very interesting. It was interesting because he did not seem to be fazed by losing his eye sight, other than the fact that he could not drive. I found it inspirational how when asked if there was a cure for it would it want to have it done. His answer was not right now because he liked were he was, but that he would want to have it done later because he would want to drive his kids to school. Another thing that I admired about him was that he just thought of losing his eye sight as a speed bump not a mountain. And that he still wants to live have a normal life.

3. I think that Tucker coming to talk to us was a really great idea. I loved how positive he was about his condition and how he turned it into something that changed his life. I also think that it was amazing how swimming wasn't even that important to him when he first started off and as life went on, swimming became a huge part of his life, as well as dealing with his vision loss. Tucker had a very positive outlook on life. The way he coped with his sudden vision loss and doing everyday activities just like anyone else showed how strong he was and how he wouldn't let this one thing take over his life. He mentioned his parents a lot and how they were his main support system. He mentioned how his dad told him that his vision loss was just a little speed bump in his life and that he could overcome it and live like he had been living before he was diagnosed. I also rly liked his sense of humor when he was talking about his vision loss. He didn't make us feel sorry for him at all or look at him any differently. He was very inspiring and positive about everything he had to deal with. i thought his incredible swimming ability was amazing to hear about also. All the awards he has won and all the medals, and all the goals he had achieved already. I thought it was really cool for him to talk to us about how he had achieved so many things by swimming and how he could end up going to the actual Olympics. Him talking to us was just a really great experience for me and it makes me realize how fortunate i am and how i should be thankful for my parents and everything else in life. I really enjoyed him talking to us. (Also he is really cute and smells wonderful :D okay bye)

4. Tucker spoke about his swimming career, what it was like to lose 80% of his vision during his senior year of high school, and what it meant to him to be able to compete in Bejing in the 2008 Paralympics. He met Lochte and Hoff, two swimmers whom I admire more than anybody in the world. He went through all the same experiences as the US Olympic team, but competed one week later. All with only being able to see from his peripherals. To me, that's amazing.
I no longer feel like I have a right to complain about ANYTHING. He's been through so much, but he learned how to swim without sight and he does it all with a smile. His only gripe is that he won't be able to drive his kids to school. I really admire him and I think his visit here was the most powerful of the whole Discover Term so far.

5. Today, my discovery term had the opportunity to meet Tucker Dupree. He's a 20 year old who swims for RSA (Raleigh Swimming Association), which is one of the popular swim teams in Raleigh. Tucker talked about his experience about becoming blind and how it slowly progressed. It started at first with Tucker being able to not see his Batman sticker in his room -- he didn't think anything of it. Then, it got bad enough he couldn't drive because he couldn't see the traffic lights. He had to give up his driver's license and he had a mental break down (this might be an overstatement -- what do others think?) because he thought things were ending for him. His father told him that this is just a "speed bump". Tucker kept mentioning that phrase about his vision lost is just a "speed bump" and that you can still follow your dreams. I remember Tucker making a huge deal about him losing his driver's license. He said he didn't like how all the girls had to pick him up, instead of picking them up. Also that he wanted to have a family one day and he wanted to take his children everywhere, but he can't. Another thing he mentioned to us was that you should find something that you love and stick with it, no matter what comes across. I don't enjoy swimming, although I hope that someday I find something I enjoy a ton and stick with it just like Tucker stuck with swimming even though all this happened to him. He still found a way to swim and he's actually really lucky to have such an experience that he's had. With all the traveling and getting free "stuff".
The last few things he talked about was the medals he got. Last year at the USA Open Swimming Championships he won six different gold medals. The year before that (2007), he won two gold and four silver medals during the Pan-American Games and also four more silver there in the same year. Every year it seems that he's been improving (by getting more gold medals each year). Tucker is an excellent swimmer; when he told us his times I flipped out. He could be in the Olympics with Michael Phelps -- I mean, he has good enough times. Plus, he has vision loss- I'm just still in shock how he's still such a fast swimmer and he has 80% of his vision gone. Tucker also holds multiple records he holds in the Paralympics. He is 4th in the 400 meter freestyle, 5th in the 100 meter freestyle, 3th in the 100 meter backstroke, 5th in the 100 meter butterfly, 6th in the 50 meter freestyle and 7th in the 200 individual medley. Overall, this was a great experience and I enjoyed everything he had to say. Tucker is such a nice and funny person. He made discovery term very exciting and it was such a good idea to invite him to tell us about everything he's been through.

Photos:


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From Left to Right: Kourtney, Haleigh, Jess, Tucker, Ashley, Abbi and Maya :]

Videos:


Paralympic Athlete Speaks To Apex Rotary Club
Garner Teen Swims Towards Olymic Gold Despite Vision Challenges

Here is a story about Tucker Dupree written by the N&O before he went to the Paralympics in Beijing.