Beyond The Game: Blackbird Stables Shares How Photo Finish™ Brightens Her Battle with ALS
Along the way, everyone meets exceptional individuals who are bigger than life and live their lives to the fullest regardless of circumstances.
If you haven't ever met one of those people, meet Amber Coleman – a dedicated player of Photo Finish™ LIVE and a shining example of how, for some, carpe diem is more than a tattoo you get or a quote you bookmark on Pinterest, but a necessary theme by which to live life.
Amber, the proud owner of Blackbird Stables, has been a vital mainstay member of the Photo Finish™ community for over a year. In that time, she's been kind enough to share her battles with ALS — a neurological disease whose effects include the degeneration of nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain.
Drawn in by its realistic and captivating racing experience, she says little did she know that this virtual horse racing game would become more than just a pastime for her; it would become a lifeline in her battle against ALS.
“I stumbled across Photo Finish™ LIVE during the PFP mint,” Amber recalls. “At the time, I didn't buy anything because I was more interested in a real game, but one day, I saw this incredible realistic racing game on YouTube and realized It all went back to those silly but cute cartoon horse pictures.”
Amber's journey with ALS, a battle that has robbed her of the ability to walk, speak, or use her hands, is one marked by resilience and determination. Diagnosed at the age of 36, Amber faced the challenges head-on, graduating from school and working for a year despite grip strength issues and changes in her speech.
“I have had to learn to accept help and ask for it. There are new obstacles with the progression,” Amber says, adding that she's learned to cherish today because with her condition comes uncertainty for tomorrow.
“One day, I may be bed-bound, but those are problems for a later date,”
Amber says Photo Finish™ LIVE has played a crucial role in her life, especially considering her use of eyegaze technology. Unlike many other games that proved incompatible with this assistive technology, Photo Finish™ seamlessly integrates with eye gaze, allowing Amber to enjoy the game entirely.
“With PFL, I can do EVERYTHING. I don't have to do anything except strategize and click!” she added, “ And even as a bonus – there is no download to muck up my machine,”
Living in Mississippi, Amber' says her children, Boogie and Sissy, ages 15 and 11, haven't yet fully embraced Photo Finish™ like their mother but have expressed an interest in naming some horses.
She explains that Photo Finish™ is not just a game but part of her plan to leave a legacy, if not entertainment, for her children. After facing personal challenges, including the financial aftermath of a divorce, Amber found cryptocurrency in 2021 and decided that, while unable to work, coupling fun with potential financially rewarding entertainment ventures could be a way for her to provide for her children's future.
Despite facing a prognosis that might limit her time, Amber remains focused on her goals, recently deciding to sell some of her horses to accomplish her plans. With her future unsettled, she recently decided to partake in a stable remodel that would expedite and level up her capabilities in the near term.
“I WILL run in the Kentucky Derby before my time comes. That means selling my hoard and buying a purple class mare,” Amber says.
“This is Step 1 of that plan,”
Amber's connection with the gaming community has been a source of solace and joy, especially in the face of her battle with ALS.
“You guys don't know how you've improved me mentally. When you sit in silence, unable to converse, it eats at you,” she shares.
“Being in the Discord with you all, I can have REAL conversations. In our community, I'm just Raven. Part of the Bad Girls Club.”
Sometimes you run across amazing people. I was hacked for horses/derby/crown. A week later Im pretty much whole! Thank you everyone who helped in any way! Thanks to donations from players and the @photofinishgame team, Ive gotten all my babies! TY #PhotoFinishLive fam! pic.twitter.com/rxKPiNKNGL
— Amber Coleman (@SlyRaven1432) September 21, 2023
The community support became evident when Amber fell victim to a hack a few months ago, just as her stable was gaining momentum. The hack resulted in her losing all her horses and in-game tokens.
Seeing her in distress, the Photo Finish™ community and team quickly jumped into action and rallied behind her.
“Community does what community does!” Amber said. “Third Time immediately stepped in account-wise, and others realized what happened, so they're snatching my horses off the Marketplace.”
“At the end, I got back ALL of my horses, and, on top of that, the community donated over 4,000 CROWN!” she recounts.
Amber's Photo Finish™ story is inspired and resilient, and she has a powerful message for anyone facing seemingly insurmountable challenges.
“Life is hard but so worth it,”
“Choose happiness and being the positivity in society – you may very well be helping someone cope without realizing it,” she encourages.
“Life may be hard, but it's beautiful. Live it.”