In living color: Co-workers deliver life-changing gift

Sept. 4, 2019

This paid piece is sponsored by MetaBank.

Chris Fox had been working at MetaBank for only about six months.

In retrospect, he acknowledges, it was barely time to get to know someone – let alone form the kinds of relationships that would lead to a life-changing gift.

But from the start, Fox knew Meta was a special place to work. When he found out his job was being eliminated at another employer in town, his friend John Devlin stepped in.

Devlin and Fox first met many years ago at their daughters’ dance competitions.

“Chris is a great guy,” Devlin said. “I immediately told him, ‘You’ve got to get over here.’ It’s a great place to work, and I knew he would be a great addition for Meta.” And he recommended Fox to People & Culture and told them that he would be a great hire.

Three weeks after Fox found out he was losing his job, he already had a new one: third-party risk analyst at Meta.

“I love it,” he said. “People all over the organization are super friendly and easy to talk to, and in the job, you learn a lot every day.”

Fox was feeling pretty fortunate. And that was before he knew what was about to happen.

Fox was born with colorblindness. And one day, while picking up his son at an after-school program, he knew one of the teachers was colorblind too.

“And I’d seen him get a gift,” Fox said. “They were colorblind glasses.”

The glasses, made by EnChroma, use ground-breaking optical filters to remove certain wavelengths of light, allowing many who are colorblind to perceive color more clearly.

“I talked to the teacher and told him I was super jealous,” Fox said. “He said, ‘You’re colorblind? Just a second.’”

As the teacher went out to his car to get the glasses for him to try , Fox contacted his wife and daughter so they could be there. EnChroma glasses don’t work for everyone. But it turns out they worked for Fox.

“I tried them for like five minutes,” he said. “It was really crazy. The grass was so green. Clouds have always blended for me, but I could see the separation between the white cloud and the blue sky. I remember looking at different flowers, just seeing what they were truly like.”

For the first time in his 36 years of life, Fox saw the colorful world around him. But it lasted for only a matter of minutes – he had to hand the glasses back.

“And that’s when my wife decided she needed to get them,” he said.

Fox’s wife sent Devlin’s wife a message about their experience. The plan was to get the glasses as an anniversary gift in October.

But the Devlins had other plans.

“I just couldn’t get it out of my head,” John Devlin said. “What an opportunity, to see color, even for a few minutes.”

Devlin went to Fox’s boss, Brad Bates, and asked for permission to reach out to his Meta co-workers about a donation. They dubbed it “Project Rubik’s Cube.”

“I think I pitched it on a Friday, and we had the glasses in hand the next Thursday,” Devlin said. “I had enough response I was willing to front the money for two pairs – an indoor and an outdoor pair – which is not a small amount of money. But MetaBank responded quick. Everyone was on board to do it.”

Many of the contributors were members with Fox and Devlin on the MetaBolism committee, a group that promotes healthy lifestyles at work.

So it only made sense to use their daily walk around the workplace for the big reveal.

One day in late July, that’s what happened.

“We were out walking, and I realized this camera was following me,” Fox said. “And all of a sudden, my wife was there, and John’s wife and two daughters were there, holding the glasses along with these brightly colored balloons.”

Before he put the glasses on, they asked him to name the colors of the balloons. He correctly named red – “it’s always been my favorite color because it’s the only one I’ve ever been really able to see,” he said. He correctly named yellow because of its brightness. He mixed up purple and blue, struggled with orange and green – and then he put the glasses on.

“And then I got every color,” he said.

It was a powerful experience — and for those around him, the experience was just as powerful.

“We got to experience it with him, to watch him look at the grass and the trees, and talk about things he couldn’t experience,” Devlin said. “I think about his daughter in dance, and all the colors that go with that that he’ll now be able to see. It was just such a cool opportunity.”

Fox has spent the past several weeks adjusting to his new accessories. He took them to Spearfish shortly after receiving them and marveled on his first hike there.

He loves to look at sunsets.

And while he never doubted his decision to take a job at Meta, his newfound vision gave it even greater clarity.

“It just speaks to the Meta culture. And it’s completely changed my life.”


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In living color: Co-workers deliver life-changing gift

Chris Fox spent the first 36 years of his life unable to see color. Then his co-workers stepped in with a life-changing gift.

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