How Blindness Led Me to My Life’s Work
When I was 18 years old, I started to lose by vision. As an athlete, the signs, at first, were small – missed passes from my teammates on the basketball court. Losing a fly ball in the air at my baseball games. Not following my golf ball’s trajectory on the course. I went to see a doctor thinking that it was something perhaps with my brain and was shocked to eventually learn I had Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) – a rare, degenerative eye disease that makes cells in the eye breakdown over time – eventually causing vision loss. I have one of the most severe cases of RP that one can have – and by age 30 I was completely blind.
For years, as I worked through a range of emotions, I always knew one thing - I was determined to not let RP define who I am or what success I find in my life. Up until the point of my diagnosis, I had planned on being a doctor – and while that course was, and remains, unavailable, higher education and career fulfillment is absolutely not. Through a lot of tenacity, problem-solving, failure and entrepreneurship, two years ago I found myself starting a new job at NSITE just outside Washington, DC. Here, I have found my deepest purpose – helping blind and low vision individuals find jobs, while also helping companies and products make their tools more accessible to everyone. In my spare time – I’m entering my fourth year as a goalie for the U.S. National Blind Hockey Team because being blind has never dimmed my love of sports!
The journey to this role and this life was not a straight line. I hope as part of this community I can share a bit about my path in the hopes it shows other blind and low vision individuals how they can find fulfilling personal and professional lives, even in the wake of the unexpected.
I’m always happy to talk to anyone who has lost vision at any stage of life, to help them understand what steps they can take to come to terms with their diagnosis, and when ready, start to think about what is next.
I look forward to learning more from you all, too.