The air was warm and filled with the sound of laughter as the Snapp family sat around their living room. Show banners hung near the fireplace while Prim and Grit, Faith and Caleb’s guide dogs, played noisily in the background. Ambitious determination, resilience and love imbue the room with the feeling of home.
“It’s been a very cool ride,” said Angie Snapp, Faith and Caleb’s mother.
Faith and Caleb Snapp are fraternal twins who are both seniors at Lubbock-Cooper High School. Born 13 weeks premature and visually impaired, all while their father, Brent Snapp, was critically ill, Angie said the beginning of their lives was difficult. She said all three of them were on life support and times were hard, but in a family built on Christian values, she said both she and Brent drew on their beliefs.
“I was able to talk to Brent,” she said. “We knew that we would need to have the faith of Caleb if we were going to get through this.”
With the goal to make their childhood as normal as possible, Angie said she did everything she could to accommodate Faith and Caleb’s disability. So long as their teachers provided them with things like large print, magnifying devices, and seated them in the right place, she said the twins excelled.
“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight, but no vision.”Faith Snapp
Faith said academically, it was a struggle at first. The twins had to learn to advocate for themselves by speaking out for what they needed to be successful, and that’s when they began to find their passions.
Caleb, a music lover and goat showman, plays six instruments. He said he plays the piano, guitar, ukulele, bass drum, marimba and timpani. He won the Lubbock District FFA Talent competition, and he’s continued to defy the odds at every intersection, showing the world his disability doesn’t define him.
“I’ve always had a love for music,” he said. “That’s where my passion is… that’s what I’ll be pursuing when I go to SPC.”
Faith, on the other hand, said she has a calling for agriculture. She’s the chapter president for the Lubbock-Cooper FFA and first vice president for the Area 1 FFA Association. It’s obvious she’s been successful in the goat ring as the banner for the Reserve Grand Champion Market Goat from the “Keep it Weird” goat show hangs above her bed after Rodeo Austin was cancelled. She said she’s so thankful she and her brother have been able to grow up in the agriculture industry.
“It has truly been the one thing that we’ve been involved in that has never placed limitations on us or our disability,” Faith said.
Both Faith and Caleb started exhibiting market goats in the third grade. After their first year, their mother said they helped pave the way for students who need accommodations in the show industry. Both are allowed one person to accompany them in the ring as a spotter. The spotter simply acts as their eyes, telling them where the judge is and how their goat is set up. Angie said Faith and Caleb take care of the rest. Faith said it makes her happy when she sees other students with spotters.
“It’s really been an incredible thing to see,” Faith said. “I’m so thankful that we’ve helped make it easier for other showmen.”
With the help of their guide dogs, Prim and Grit, Faith said this is the closest she and Caleb have ever been to walking like a sighted person. Caleb said his life has changed immensely for the better since he got Grit. He and Faith both have guide dogs from an organization called Guide Dogs for the Blind, a non-profit public charity who works to prepare dogs to help visually impaired individuals live their lives independently.
“They’re completely different people with their dogs,” Angie said. “It’s hard to trust your kid with an animal, but it really lets them be more independent.”
Before they got their dogs, Angie said Faith and Caleb spent most of their time at her side. She said she directed them where to walk, when to stop, and everything in between. When Faith completed her training with Prim, Angie said her daughter asked for a celebratory dinner at Raising Cane’s Chicken. When they were getting ready to leave, Angie said she was worried because she couldn’t find her daughter. She said she looked up to see that Faith had already left the restaurant and was standing at the car. She said this was something she never would have done before getting Prim.
Caleb said he struggled with the idea of using a cane or guide dog. He said he felt that if he did, all it did was show the world his disability.
“I put it off for as long as I could because I just wanted to be a normal kid,” he said. “I felt like I’d get a lot of negative attention, or people wouldn’t understand. It took me a long time for me to see that people would.”
Faith and Caleb said as they get ready head off to college at West Texas A&M University and South Plains College in the fall, they’re excited to pursue their own goals. Their mother said she’s so proud of all her kids, and Caleb said he can’t wait for the chance to be in the courses that help develop his love for music. When asked about what being visually impaired has taught her, Faith said “the only thing worse than being blind is having sight, but no vision.” She said she strives to look at others every day with her heart, and not her eyes.