Above, a young Patrick Henry Hughes and his mother, Patricia Hughes
January-February 2019 – Patrick Henry Hughes was born without eyes. Sight wasn’t a possibility. He had arms, but he couldn’t straighten them out. He had legs, but they couldn’t support him. Walking was out of the question.
Patrick Henry’s young parents were devastated when they learned of their first-born son’s severe disabilities.
“It was almost like a funeral,” explained his father, Patrick John Hughes. “Millions of dreams we had for our son died. There were some nights of crying ourselves to sleep and asking, ‘God, why us? Why did You do this to us?’”
But Patrick Henry chose not to see the barriers. Instead, he heard music.
“We each sort of came to the realization that this is what we’ve been handed,” said his father. “Now, let’s get to work. I’m going to give him his full life and all of the opportunities I would give an able-bodied son.”
“We just put him out in front of people and pushed him to be outgoing,” explained his mom, Patricia. “We didn’t dwell on any of the handicaps. I don’t think Patrick realized he was blind until he was in preschool.”
By then, Patrick Henry had been playing the piano for years. He had started at just nine months, and by the time he was two, he was playing songs like “You Are My Sunshine.”
Patrick Henry endured multiple surgeries and a great deal of discomfort as the family attempted to bring improved functionality to his life, including a prolonged, agonizing process necessary to place artificial eyes in his sockets.
American Family Studios’ full-length movie, I am Potential, reveals how Patrick Henry’s optimism and determination played a vital role in maturing and strengthening his parents’ faith and marriage. As the family grew, adding two more sons, Patrick’s musical aspirations intensified.
It was a challenge to balance the responsibilities, and the family’s livelihood was threatened as Patrick John faced mounting pressures at work. But an enormous step of faith, inspired by sacrificial love, led the family down a path of great reward.
In 2006, Patrick Henry’s father began pushing him in his wheelchair through the intricate marching band routines of the University of Louisville marching band as he played the trumpet. Increasing crowds and media attention were drawn to the football fields to see father and son perform.
In 2007, producers of the popular television program Extreme Makeover: Home Edition learned of the family’s living environment and built them a beautiful, new home with private and independent accommodations for Patrick Henry.
He graduated from University of Louisville, magna cum laude, and has travelled the country for years with his father performing and sharing their story of God’s loving, sovereign plan.
“I’ve had this recurring thought that God sent Patrick Henry specifically to us, that his birth was much more than just the accidental joining of two infinitely rare recessive genes,” said his father, who credits Patrick Henry for helping him grow up. “My son has rekindled my passion for life … Finally, I have a purpose in life that is bigger than me: teaming with my son to spread God’s message of possibilities and unconditional love to all who choose to listen.”
I am Potential: Eight Lessons on Living, Loving and Reaching Your Dreams by Patrick Henry Hughes with Patrick John Hughes and Bryan Stamford is available at online and retail bookstores.
I am Potential is produced by American Family Studios and is based on the true story of Patrick Henry Hughes. DVD is available at afastore.net.