Love of music helps blind St. Francis teen navigate life - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Love of music helps blind St. Francis teen navigate life

Posted: Updated:

He holds the record as the smallest baby boy to survive at Rapid City Regional Hospital. At one pound, six ounces, no one expected much from Freddy Iyotte.

13 years later, Freddy is not only surviving, he's thriving. Thanks to a fighting spirit, an innate sense of humor and a shared love of music.

He entered the world four months early.

"It was like a nightmare. My water broke out of the blue," said Maria Iyotte, "The doctor said they will do a cesarean and then I will not see him, because he will not live."

But Freddy clung to life in an incubator for months, his parents Maria and Richard right by his side.

"I'll never forget one day he just stopped breathing. But and then he came out of it and he looked at his papa's face and he smiled at him like it was a joke," said Maria.

Freddy left the hospital after four months, but not unscathed. Scar tissue from early laser surgeries crowded his retinas, plunging his young life into darkness. But growing up in a musical household, Freddy found his own light. At one and a half, he played his first piano.

"He never banged around like other kids. From the get-go he always used his fingers," said Maria.

Ever since, he's been unstoppable.  Today Freddy sings in English, German and Lakota.  He has a knack for working out tunes he's only heard once or twice, and has even joined his musical hero - his dad - in the studio. Richard Iyotte is part of the band Arrow Space.

When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Freddy's mind turns back to music, "I'm gonna be backup for Papa."

"He makes songs about everything. Like last year when he was on a visit, he made a song about going to the eye doctor," said Maria.

It was during that visit to a New York specialist, sponsored by The Lions Club, that the Iyotte's received news they'd waited more than a decade to hear.

"The doctor said everything is fine. Just his retinas are no good. So he's the perfect candidate for a retina transplant," said Maria.

Despite his spot on the transplant list, Freddy will have to wait four more years for his shot at restored eyesight. For now, this precocious, affectionate 13-year-old is working hard.

"He participates in P. E. with the kids and when they have the Lakota class and recess and lunch just as much as he can," said teacher Anita Olson, who works with Freddy one-on-one.

He is also getting ready for his next performance - at the St. Francis Indian School Christmas program. Freddy says Christmas is his favorite holiday.

And Freddy's parents are cherishing every milestone, watching the young man their premature baby has become.

"You don't take anything for granted anymore. Because he's special, so you enjoy everything. every little step," said Maria.

Doctors tell the Iyotte's that after his transplant and transition counseling, Freddy will be capable of tasks most people take for granted, like driving a car.

St. Francis Indian School is working to recruit a piano teacher, so Freddy can develop his talent in a gifted music program.

  • Owning Your Outdoors: Tree Care

    Owning Your Outdoors: Tree Care

    Friday, July 25 2014 9:36 AM EDT2014-07-25 13:36:12 GMT
    Doug says that the natural crown line of a tree should be easy to identify.Doug says that the natural crown line of a tree should be easy to identify.
    There are a number of reasons to prune and crown trees. Trees can grow to close to buildings, power lines or sidewalks and become a hazard. Trees can also be crowned and pruned to make them cosmetically more appealing.More >>
    There are a number of reasons to prune and crown trees. Trees can grow to close to buildings, power lines or sidewalks and become a hazard. Trees can also be crowned and pruned to make them cosmetically more appealing.More >>
  • Corsica cleans up after windstorm pummels town

    Corsica cleans up after windstorm pummels town

    Monday, July 28 2014 12:13 AM EDT2014-07-28 04:13:28 GMT
    While many were dealing with a wet Saturday, folks in the Central South Dakota community of Corsica faced gale force winds that left plenty of damage in their wake.More >>
    While many were dealing with a wet Saturday, folks in the Central South Dakota community of Corsica faced gale force winds that left plenty of damage in their wake.
    More >>
  • Avera Medical Minute ASL: relieving pain with hysterectomy

    Avera Medical Minute ASL: relieving pain with hysterectomy

    Sunday, July 27 2014 10:50 PM EDT2014-07-28 02:50:16 GMT
    It's not the easiest topic to discuss and no woman will tell you her cycle is a joyful experience. But for Wendy Mehlhaff, every month was accompanied by pain and discomfort.More >>
    It's not the easiest topic to discuss and no woman will tell you her cycle is a joyful experience. But for Wendy Mehlhaff, every month was accompanied by pain and discomfort.
    More >>
  • Tentative deal reached on VA Reform

    Tentative deal reached on VA Reform

    Sunday, July 27 2014 7:23 PM EDT2014-07-27 23:23:52 GMT
    The chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees have reached a tentative agreement on a plan to improve veterans' health care.More >>
    The chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees have reached a tentative agreement on a plan to improve veterans' health care.More >>
  • Gas Station clerk injured in armed robbery

    Gas Station clerk injured in armed robbery

    Sunday, July 27 2014 2:07 PM EDT2014-07-27 18:07:07 GMT
    Jackie HolmanJackie Holman
    A Sioux Falls gas station clerk was struck in the head with a handgun during an overnight armed robbery.More >>
    A Sioux Falls gas station clerk was struck in the head with a handgun during an overnight armed robbery.More >>
  • Celebration for Black Hills Cemetery Act

    Celebration for Black Hills Cemetery Act

    Sunday, July 27 2014 2:01 PM EDT2014-07-27 18:01:16 GMT
    Supporters of a bill that transfers ownership of nine historic cemeteries in the Black Hills from the federal government to local communities celebrated among the living and the dead.More >>
    Supporters of a bill that transfers ownership of nine historic cemeteries in the Black Hills from the federal government to local communities celebrated among the living and the dead.More >>
  • 2014 Mike Miller Night of Hope

    2014 Mike Miller Night of Hope

    Sunday, July 27 2014 12:14 AM EDT2014-07-27 04:14:24 GMT
    Sioux Falls was filled with some big name professional athletes Friday night for the Mike Miller Night of Hope benefiting the Sanford Children's Hospital.Sioux Falls was filled with some big name professional athletes Friday night for the Mike Miller Night of Hope benefiting the Sanford Children's Hospital.
    Sioux Falls was filled with some big name professional athletes Friday night for the Mike Miller Night of Hope benefiting the Sanford Children's Hospital.More >>
    Sioux Falls was filled with some big name professional athletes Friday night for the Mike Miller Night of Hope benefiting the Sanford Children's Hospital.More >>
  • Wind, hail brings widespread damage in Douglas County

    Wind, hail brings widespread damage in Douglas County

    Saturday, July 26 2014 11:45 PM EDT2014-07-27 03:45:21 GMT
    Strong wind and large hail hit parts of Douglas County near Corsica. More >>
    Strong wind and large hail hit parts of Douglas County near Corsica. More >>
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KSFY. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service or our EEO Report.