Compassionate service: A view from the eyes of another
By:Faith Jurek Agricultural Communications Graduate Research Assistant Texas Tech University
Walk into the ring, eyes on the judge, line your animal up, set their legs, eyes on the judge. From the outside looking in, the Snapp twins appear to be two typical 12-year-olds passionately showing goats, but not all meets the eye.
On first glance, one may not realize that Faith and Caleb Snapp are legally blind, with approximately 10 percent of their vision, no peripheral vision and limited depth perception. Visual impairment poses many problems in the show ring, but for Faith and Caleb, they are fortunate to have a set of eyes in the ring – their spotters.
Texas 4-H Livestock Ambassadors, Lindsey Cobb, a junior, and Ian Cobb, a sophomore at New Home ISD, have been assisting the Snapp twins prepare and show their animals for the last five years. Whether it is a local, county or major show, the Cobb duo, along with Jacey Snapp, the twin’s older sister, serve as the twin’s “verbal version of eyes.”
“As a spotter, usually we will be right behind their shoulder talking to them the whole time,” Lindsey said. “Its like a commentary, a play-by-play. We will point them in certain directions, help set legs, and make sure that everything is of the best possible chance for them. “
Showing animals is a tradition in both the Cobb and Snapp families, and is something the Snapp family has become accustomed to since learning the twin’s vision is limited to seeing through an area of which is similar to a coffee straw. Considering the twins cannot play sports, the Snapp’s mom, Angie, said showing goats is a way Faith and Caleb are able to get involved.
But the Snapp family, like many others in their first impression, has not always realized the extent to which Faith and Caleb cannot see.
“I will never forget the first time I spotted for Faith,” Jacey said. “We walked into the ring, and I said ‘ok Faith look at the judge,’ and her head turned to me and she said ‘where is the judge?’ She had absolutely no idea where he was. I hadn’t realized how bad it was before then, and I have lived with them since day one.”
Just like any show family, the twins are assisted with practicing and are given advice whenever needed outside of the show ring. Despite the fact the twins have limited vision, their mom said they function rather well due to the fact they were raised with a can-do attitude.
Caleb said he works independently with their goats on a daily basis, feeding and walking them. He said is it worth it, despite a few bumps and bruises along the way.
“I love how we learn from experiences,” Caleb said. “We all work together, even if it’s a very stressful moment, we will all still work together.”
With the help of others, the Snapp twins have approximately 80 shows under their belts and several awards to boot, including winning several showmanship awards, Caleb taking second place at Rodeo Austin and Faith receiving ninth at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo last year.
But the awards are not what make showing goats worthwhile for the Snapp twins.
Faith said she loves to show because it is a lot of fun, and she is glad there are people there to help her.
“Some people feel so ashamed about their disability, but that’s why I’m not afraid to tell people about this,” Faith said. “I have two families behind me and other people that are always supporting me.”
Showing goats has given the twins so much more than they ever expected, and their mother said it has established a high level of confidence in them both inside and outside the show ring.
This confidence has shown in their future career goals. Faith said she would like to become a vet and be a representative of a disability organization to help people realize they do not need to be ashamed. Caleb said he wants to invent a technical device to help people with their visual disabilities.
Inversely, the Cobb family said their service has impacted them more than they ever thought was possible. It brought their two families together and a new outlook on life.
“They think they are normal, but to everybody else or to a doctor, they are not,” Ian said. “We are with them a lot more than most people, but to grow up and realize what I’ve taken for granted has been taken from them, has just given me a whole new perspective on things, and I am very lucky to help them.”
The Cobb and Snapp family said they consider each other to be family, and Lindsey, Ian, Jacey, Faith and Caleb treat each other like brother and sister.
The Snapp’s mom said she is elated that the livestock show and agriculture communities are one big safe family that are willing to step in and help Faith and Caleb whenever necessary.
“Its just multifaceted the different things showing has enabled them to do,” Angie said. “But their work ethic, their compassion, responsibility, it really does raise good kids, whether they can see or not, showing does raise good kids.”