Everyday Heroes

Envision focuses on ability, not disability. That’s why Envision likes to recognize and honor outstanding achievements by those in the visually impaired community. The people featured on this page have made outstanding contributions to their fields, or have shown exemplary dedication to aiding individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Envision recognizes their achievements and is proud to work alongside many of these outstanding individuals to bring awareness to the amazing things that people can do when they are empowered. We say ‘thank you’ to these everyday heroes for their dedication and for being leaders in the field of low vision.

Dave Meador – A Hole in One

Golfer, Motivational Speaker

David Meador was a passionate golfer before he lost his eyesight in an automobile accident during his freshman year of college. Despite his sudden, tragic vision loss, Meador went on to earn degrees at Southern Illinois University and Loyola of Chicago, and never stopped golfing. Meador is also a past president of the United States Blind Golf Association, and also serves on its board. He is the 2013 recipient of the Ben Hogan Award presented at The Masters, and authored an autobiography about his experiences, Broken Eyes, Unbroken Spirit. Meador was a guest at Envision’s 2014 Golf Fore Sight Fundraiser, and hosted a golf clinic for blind and visually impaired children involved with Envision’s programs.

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Shelby Breit – Going the Distance

Student, Runner

From the Wichita Business Journal: Shelby Breit loves to run, and she has developed a passion for helping people who are blind or visually impaired. Now, she’s come up with a way to combine the two. Breit, a Wichita native who is a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma, has created a program that allows people with vision problems to better participate in endurance sports. It’s called Every Mile Counts. It works by pairing guide runners with runners who are visually impaired. Breit says it was Envision who helped connect her with NewView. Breit says she became interested in helping people with vision problems because it was a philanthropic cause that her sorority, Delta Gamma, is involved with. She plans to reach out to other Delta Gamma chapters in the Wichita area to raise awareness about Every Mile Counts locally.

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Andrea Bocelli – Raising his Voice

Opera Singer

By the age of seven, Italian-born Bocelli knew all the arias from Il Trovatore. Now he is a world renowned tenor and can boast being the biggest-selling artist in the history of classical music” with nearly 100 million albums sold. Bocelli grew up living with low vision, after being diagnosed with glaucoma at a young age and had deteriorating vision, finally becoming completely blind in a soccer match when he was 12. Never letting his visual impairment hold him back, Bocelli travels the world singing for large, captivated audiences. But that’s not all he’s doing. In 2013, Bocelli unveiled a new partnership with MIT to develop new technologies that would help those living with a visual impairment live more independently. He brainstormed with several professors at MIT on technology after a concert in Boston, and years later debuted the partnership with MIT and his Foundation, donating around $500,000 to the cause. Bocelli is funding crucial research that will help improve the lives of those who are blind or visually impaired.
 

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Erik Weihenmayer – Climbing to the Top

Adventurer

From TouchTheTop.com: Erik Weihenmayer has become one of the most celebrated and accomplished adventurers in the world. Re-defining what it means to be blind, Erik has opened up the eyes and minds of people around the world. In 2001, Erik became the only blind climber in history to reach the summit of Mount Everest. In 2008, he completed his quest to climb the Seven Summits – the tallest peak on each of the seven continents. Since then, he continues to inspire others through actions and deeds. Mountaineering is just one of Erik's many outdoor adventure passions. He is an avid rock climber who has ascended many of the classic routes around the country. He enjoys alpine skiing, both at resorts and in the backcountry. And recently, Erik has been focusing on whitewater kayaking…with the ultimate goal of becoming the first blind person to kayak the Grand Canyon. Erik also has a competitive streak. He has run marathons in Charlotte, Havana, and New York. He has completed adventure races including the Arctic Team Challenge and Primal Quest. And he was the first blind person to complete the Leadville 100 mountain bike race. In 2011, Erik and his teammates competed on the reality TV show Expedition Impossible, finishing in second place and winning the hearts of fans around the country.

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David Paterson – A Vision of Leadership

Politician, New York State Governor

People are fond of saying of people with disabilities that they are just like everybody else, but that's just something to say to make them feel better. When you have a disability you are not like everyone else. You are uniquely defined by a lack of vision. – David A. Paterson

David Paterson contracted a serious ear infection that spread to his optic nerve shortly after birth. The infection left him with no sight in his left eye and limited vision in his right eye. Paterson has allowed his visual impairment to affect his life in a deep way: it made him more driven. He graduated ahead of his peers in high school and learned how to fight for what he wanted. Paterson became the youngest New York state senator at the age of 31 in 1985. In 2008 he went on to become the first African American governor of New York state. Governor Paterson is an advocate for the American Foundation for the Blind.

Paterson has never let his visual impairment hold him back, instead, he has let it spur him forward to great heights.

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Geerat Vermeij, Ph.D – Leagues of Inspiration

Evolutionary Biologist, Professor of Marine Biology and Paleocology

Dr. Geerat Vermeij has shown through his extensive research that all living things effect on another in a deep and profound way. And through science and his successes, Dr. Vermeij has had a profound impact on others not only through his work, but through inspiration. Having lost his vision at a young age, Dr. Vermeij perfected his sense of touch, and his expertise in tactile observation has allowed him to distinguish and group mollusks by their shells, and observe many scientific phenomena through touch that he describes in exacting detail in his writings, sharing a world that few have the opportunity to experience. Dr. Vermeij insists on doing his own field research, and takes field notes in Braille. He has experienced dangers in his research such as being stung by sting rays, falling on jagged rocks and bitten by crabs. Dr. Vermeij shrugs these dangers away, saying they are typical of any field research work. Dr. Vermeij has never let his visual impairment damper his curiosity about the world or his passion for his work, and he hopes to share that passion with students of science for years to come.

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Andrew Klimek – PRomoting Opportunity

When it comes to saving, Andrew is the expert. Living with limited vision, Andrew loves shopping, but enjoys being thrifty while he does it. One day, Andrew was chatting with his brother discussing entrepreneurship opportunities the internet presents, when his brother asked Andrew what he would sell online if he had the opportunity to have a website. Then inspiration struck. Andrew had a better idea: to offer coupons to help other people save money. Not only can coupons be used for a wide range of products and services, but they benefit both businesses and consumers. This is where the inspiration for his coupon website, Little Apple Perks, came from. 

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I feel that Shelbie is very blessed to have found a job, her first by the way, in a setting where everyone is aware of her vision loss and it isn't treated as an obstacle.

– Christina Kester, discussing her daughter Shelbie’s employment with Envision