Last month, FOX23 surprised Malerie Levens with the news that she would get to meet Justin Bieber.
The Canadian pop star heard about Malerie’s wish to see him before she goes blind due to a rare eye condition and made arrangements for her and her father to meet with him in Los Angeles. The trip of a life time was, in Malerie’s words, “so awesome, the best time ever. (Justin) was super nice.” For Malerie’s father Eric, the trip was also incredible, “from start to finish.” Bieber treated Malerie like a princess and surprised her with an incredible gift. “I got to go to the Teen Choice Awards! It was very, very amazing, just seeing all those people singing and appreciating their fans.” The Owasso eleven-year-old remembers every detail about the trip, even what the pop star was wearing when their eyes first met. “He was wearing black skinny jeans, a white shirt and then his sleeves were black.” Had this meeting happened any later, Malerie may not have been able to make Justin’s clothes out. Stargardt Disease is stealing Malerie's sight. “I can't get over the fact that my daughter's going to be blind, I can't, but this is going to help our family deal with that helping other people,” Malerie’s dad told FOX23. After seeing what this wish did for Malerie's spirit, Eric Levens knew their mission wasn't over. “All these kids out here with this ridiculous disease have all these wishes and dreams, things they want to see, but they don't have the resources to do it,” he said. Telling her story and finding support taught Malerie a valuable lesson. “(I learned) how strong I was. I didn't know how strong I was until I started this whole journey,” Malerie said. The family has started the Visions of the World Foundation to give kids with Stargardt Disease the chance to see something incredible before they can't see at all. “Hopefully, someday there's no reason for the foundation but right now there is,” Eric said. Malerie feels it's her time to pay it forward. “If we keep going and try other things to help people, then it will really work.” If a little girl from Oklahoma can meet Justin Bieber, isn't anything possible?
“We're going to do a lot of awesome things. We can make a lot of dreams come true,” Eric said.
Currently, there is now cure or treatment for Stargardt Disease. Malerie’s family says if one is ever discovered, the mission for the VOW Foundation will change to making sure every child with Stargardt Disease can get the treatment without worrying about its expense.
To donate to the Visions of the World Foundation, click here: http://maleriesvow.com/