MOUNTAIN HOUSE, Calif. — Samar Aulakh is not your normal high school kid, but he's likely one of the most courageous kids you'll meet. Not only is he a senior basketball player at Mountain House High School, but he's also battling a rare disease.
Aulakh was diagnosed with Stargardt Disease when he was 12. Roughly one in every 8,000 to 10,000 people suffer from it. Ever since his diagnosis, Aulakh has been experiencing ongoing vision loss, and there's no cure for it at this time. This is something that has caused his parents a bit of anxiety.
"It's a feeling of helplessness as a parent. You just watch and hope for the best," said Pebble, Aulakh's mother. "You have plans for your kids when they're growing up - everything changes as soon as you find something out like this."
In addition to Stargardt Disease, Aulakh is battling Crohn's disease as well. However, he never let that detour him from participating in sports or from being a model student. As a result of his positive attitude, he was recently named a finalist for the Jersey Mike's Naismith High School Courage Award.
"I was very happy of course. It's a really big honor," Aulakh said. "I was honestly shocked. There's a lot of great people out there and a lot of people who do courageous things, just to be named one of them is a big honor."
He was nominated for the award by his varsity basketball coach.
"I admire him every time he's in practice," said Reno Ursal, head varsity basketball coach at Mountain House High School. "Every time he's here with his teammates, every time he's out there on the court, he's just been constantly consistent."
Despite the adversity thrown his way, Aulakh takes it all in stride. He maintains a positive outlook on life. As far as his future aspirations, Aulakh plans to go into business.
"As long as you stay positive and don't let it consume your life, then you can move on with your life and tell a bigger story. I'm just trying to raise awareness for it because then maybe we can find a cure," he said.
The winner of the award will be announced on April 12.