SPOKANE, Wash. — A Spokane 8-year-old is bringing his impressive skills to a national braille competition at the end of June.
Enthusiastic isn't a big enough word to describe Russell Winkler.
"People are drawn to him naturally because of his personality," said his teacher Lonna Gately.
But his ability to connect with people isn't his only skill.
"I am a winner of something very special for the blind called the braille challenge," Winkler said while beaming with pride.
Gately has been working with Winkler since he was just 6 months old. She said he is the top of his class at Garfield Elementary in reading, writing and math.
"I told his parents when he was very young that he was going to do big things. I could just tell from an early age," she said.
Now the two are getting ready for the biggest competition yet but it's not the first time Winkler has competed.
"Last year I couldn't complete anything. This year I completed everything," Winkler said, referring to the regional competition back in March. "I'm way smarter this year.”
He hopes to leave the finals victorious, but that's not his biggest dream.
"I want to start a school for the blind,” Winkler said. "Because you know, there's really no schools for blind kids, there's mostly just like special ed classes. I want to make a school where blind kids can come and learn the experience about braille.”
The competition will take place on June 21-22 at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Winkler is the only student from the Pacific Northwest headed to the competition.
"I couldn't be more proud of him for his hard work that he has put in to get to this point," Gately said.
"I'm very proud and I'd like to give a shout out to my family," Winkler said.