Two years ago, Brandon Polking, a 2014 athletic training major from the Mount, was at his co-op job setting up for football practice for the Cincinnati Bengals when suddenly he lost sight in his right eye. Doctors at the Cincinnati Eye Institute diagnosed him with central retinal arterial occlusion (CRAO), caused when a blood clot entered a previously undetected hole in his heart and ended up in his eye.
“My doctors told me I had a better chance of getting struck by lightning twice than having this happen,” Polking said.
Polking wasn’t just a college student dealing with vision loss in one eye. He also happened to be a pitcher for the Mount’s baseball team.
“The first thing I did when I came home from the hospital was run to my backyard, pick up a baseball and see if I could throw it through a small hole,” he said. “I could.”
Polking adapted to only having sight in one eye. He had to re-learn how to drive and judge distances. “The hardest part was catching a baseball,” he said. “But you gotta do what you gotta do, so I practiced a lot until I did it.”
Not only did Polking graduate in May, but he was honored as the athletic training department’s Clinician of the Year. He was also accepted into the Mount’s highly competitive Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program. He said it has been his dream to become a physical therapist after spending time in physical therapy throughout his athletic career which included playing baseball for St. Xavier High School where he graduated in 2010.
Brandon is the son of Karen and Dan Polking of Cheviot.