Patrick John Hughes introduced his boy to the piano at the age of nine months. His son, Patrick Henry Hughes, was born with a rare genetic disorder that left him without eyes and unable to fully straighten his arms and legs, preventing the ability to walk. But he was blessed with exceptional musical talent.

Now, at age 24, he is a nationally known pianist, singer, and trumpeter and subject of I Am Potential. He served as a member of his college marching band, playing the trumpet while his devoted father pushed him around in his wheelchair. The Hughes family was even featured on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition back in 2008. With determined optimism and courage, Hughes has made the phrase “I am potential” his mantra and defied the impossible at every turn.

Patrick Henry playing the piano at 9 months. (Image courtesy of

I’m sorry to be the one to tell you. Your baby has inherited an extremely rare condition. He doesn’t have eyes.

I can’t even begin to imagine the pain I would feel if those words were ever spoken. How unfair is it for an innocent little human being to not even start with the same abilities as most people? Why does this have to happen?

When senses are dulled, others are heightened – this is true for Patrick Henry who has an amazing sense of humility and humor despite the disadvantages he faces on a daily basis. In I Am Potential, he writes, “On the day I was born, you might say I arrived carrying a bag full of lemons, not the kind of thing my family had in mind. I think they would have preferred oranges; they’re sweeter and have less bite.”

Patrick’s father, Patrick John, sacrificed time, sleep and energy to help his son maximize his full potential. The video below shares a wonderful look into their life together.

As a father, this story completely annihilates any frustrations my wife and I have with our 18-month old. We may struggle to improve the progress of her speech and stress out from time to time because we’re worried she’s gonna be that kid with a bucket on her head, but we are fully-aware each day how lucky we are to have a healthy and happy little goofball.

Patrick John Hughes gives me hope.