MONTVILLE TWP. — A Granger Elementary School student won first place in his age group at the Braille Institute of America’s National Braille Challenge on Saturday.
Eight-year-old Griffin Miller was born with Leber’s congenital amaurosis, a rare visual impairment that has left him nearly blind. He traveled to Los Angeles with his mother, Rachel Miller, to compete in the challenge.
“He was just so excited. … He jumped out of his chair with the biggest grin” when they announced his name, Miller said. “It was very suspenseful.”
The first-place winners in each age group — Griffin competed in the first- and second-grade group — received a $1,000 savings bond and a Pac-MATE portable computer for the visually impaired with a Braille keyboard that talks to users.
“He’s playing around on it nonstop,” Miller said Tuesday.
She said they visited Universal Studios the day after the competition and Griffin enjoyed the rides and tours.
A student of Braille since he was 2 years old, Griffin was tested in Braille spelling, reading comprehension and proofreading during the only national academic competition for the blind and visually impaired.
He also was awarded for reading more than 1,000 pages of Braille writing this year through the Braille Readers Are Leaders program.
His disability has not prevented him from becoming a prodigy in the classroom and in his extracurricular activities.
Griffin showed interest in numbers before he was 2 and learned multiplication and division by age 3. Since then, he has skipped first grade and completed the sixth-grade math curriculum.
He can play classical pieces by Beethoven, Bach and Mozart on the piano, is learning Spanish and German, and also participates in gymnastics and swimming.
Griffin said he is already preparing for next year’s competition, where he will compete in the third-grade age group.
“(It will be) maybe something different … a little harder spelling … they’ll make the spelling words a little longer and they’ll make different errors,” he explained.
“He wants to be a finalist again next year,” Miller said.
Contact Kaitlin Bushinski at (330) 721-4050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.