Father of blind triplets who earned Eagle Scout: 'I'm the proudest dad'
It was the moment that Leo, Nick, and Steven Cantos had worked tirelessly for.
At a “Court of Honor” ceremony Wednesday, the three brothers advanced in rank to Eagle Scout.
“I'm just extremely excited about tonight,” Steven said. “We’ve actually done it, after a lot of time and a lot of work, and just learning new skills, and helping others.”
But the three teens aren’t just brothers.
They are triplets, blind since birth.
“Whatever it is, there are no limits,” Leo declared. “The only limits you have are in your mind.”
During a six-year-period, they earned 21 merit badges.
Learning skills like swimming, public service, camping, even whitewater rafting.
They were expected to earn their badges, just like any other scouts.
“I feel like I'm the proudest dad on the face of the earth,” smiled Ollie Cantos.
Cantos, who is also blind, adopted the trio in 2010. The boys are now 18 years old.
“Blindness doesn't have to limit us in terms of our success,” he said. “The only thing we cannot do as blind people is see. That’s it!”
Each brother had to complete an Eagle project.
Nick, for example, collected $2,000 worth of toiletries for abused women.
He arranged delivery of two truckloads and two carloads full of personal items.
As part of a special surprise, all three will each have a year-long loan of a pair of high-tech Aira Smart Glasses.
Each has a tiny video camera that connects a blind person to an agent who can see.
“That produces a live video stream that connects to a real person,” explains Amy Bernal, an Aira spokeswoman. “The Aira agent is seeing the video stream in real time, and they are describing verbally to the user everything they see.”
Leo says the technology is a huge breakthough.
“It’s a person who’s describing different places we’re going to, or wherever we’re looking,” he said. “They’re seeing what we’re seeing, and they’re telling us what’s nearby, so it’s almost like we have sight. I think it’s awesome.”
The brothers will be traveling to Boston for some advanced vocational rehab training, to help them live more independently.
But they are already heading in that direction, their father said.
“They already travel in the metro alone, taking buses, reading braille really fast, using technology,” the boy's father said, with a touch of pride in his voice.
After that, there are plans for college.
Each triplet already has specific career goals.
Steven wants to be a copyright lawyer.
Nick says he’ll keep the family’s Amway business going.
Leo plans to pursue a position as an in-house counsel for Microsoft.
“I want to show people who are younger than I am, that anything can be done,” he said. “It just depends on the effort you put into it.”
Three amazing young men.
Learning about living life without limits, and just maybe, something about themselves, too.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Steven said. “That's my goal, to keep a good character.”