Fernando Cabaña plays the "bombo" (Argentinean drum), the guitar and violin. He is preparing to participate in the National Goalball Championship and is a fan of the Utah Jazz and River Plate.

Fernando, 15, is also blind. But he says that hasn't been an obstacle, and he enjoys every minute of life.

His bombo teacher, Luis Fredes, says he has learned more about life during the short time talking with Fernando in their classes. "His spirit and the way he sees things is truly remarkable," Fredes says. "When we talk he always lets me see his love for life and desire for constant improvement."

Cabaña's ability to play different instruments has attracted attention within the Hispanic community as he accompanies folk music groups with his bombo. "My two favorite rhythms are 'Malambo' and 'Argentinean Samba.' When I play the bombo drum with these two songs I feel deep inside the music."

Even with his talent with the bombo, his favorite instrument is the guitar. "I like the 'heavy metal,' I like the sound of guitar strings and the force with which they interpret. My favorite band is Slipknot," he says with a big smile as he strums the rhythm with his fingers.

Speaking about rock music with Fernando is an experience.

"I love Rush," he says. "They play really high notes on the bass. My favorite song is 'Red Barchetta.'"

He also talks of being a great fan of the Utah Jazz and follower of Argentine football. "The best news I can give is that the Boca Junior lost … because that means the River Plate won," he says.

He has never seen the rays of the sun or the colors of the flowers, but he does listen intently to the melodious songs of the birds and the sentiment of the people.

"I have many friends that are girls. I like a girl that is in my science class. Even though we sit in different rows, because we were assigned to them at the beginning of the year, we always talk, and she likes me to tell her about my goalball games. I can feel when a person is my friend by the way they talk to me," Fernando says when asked about his social life.

His last two years at a new school, he has learned to walk alone in the halls, move from class to class, take notes and take his own tests. He previously attended a regular school accompanied by a tutor.

"He is a very smart boy. The lack of sight has not been an impediment to him. He's very dedicated, exercises every day with his father and organizes his time so he can have time to devote to the violin and the guitar every day," says Sasa CabaÑa, his stepmother, who has shared much of her time with Fernando.

His biggest challenge is overcoming fear. "There are certain things which I fear I will not be capable of realizing. I think and meditate about the problem at hand and then I resolve to do it. So far I have defeated the obstacles presented to me, overcame the fear, and have accomplished that which I've set out to do."

He decided that he would like to study to become a massage therapist. "I have given my mom massages and she says I give her the best massages. Then one day I said, 'This is what I really want to do for living. Now I am studying to get the grades I need to go to college," Fernando says.

His brother Sebastian is very proud of his brother.

"Fernando is very good. We almost never fight and if we do, in five minutes we are happy again. He is always mindful of me, making sure that I am always happy. He does many things to make us feel happy," Sebastian, 12, says.

Their father, Alberto Cabaña, says Fernando has always had a special place in his heart.

"Fernando is always willing to fight and do whatever it takes to make us feel good. He always wants to do well."

Fernando's advice to all young men his age: "Always do well, attend school, do not consume drugs or alcohol and work hard to reach your goals."

e-mail: cskinner@desnews.com