I still cannot believe I had never met a blind person until 22 years ago when my first baby was born. When I heard the words “Your son is blind,” I spiraled in fear and panic. I had no idea what was possible for my son or his brother that was also born blind three years later.
While I had no vision of my boys’ lives ahead, one thing that was crystal clear to me was that I would need to find someone that was successful without sight in a world not built for blindness – and find out how they did it!
I will never forget the day I met Erik Weihenmayer. More importantly, I will never forget experiencing my oldest blind son, MIchael, meeting Erik that day. Michael was six years old and Erik had just become the first blind person to summit Mt. Everest! I watched them chat and laugh and snicker about “the sighted people” that take pictures of them but never say where to look! (LOL)
I witnessed Michael’s mind blow wide open with possibility as he talked with a guy just like himself, blind, that had just done something cooler than any sighted person he had ever met!
Meeting people like Erik and so many others that are succeeding without sight gave my boys the hard proof that they had unlimited possibilities for their lives too. In his book The Talent Code, Daniel Coyle calls this ignition, a concept of “if he can do it, I can do it.” Ignition opens minds up to possibility.
Role models give my blind sons the ignition to believe in themselves and believe the lives of their dreams are possible.Kristin Smedley
That’s just the beginning, though. With access to the tools of blindness, literacy and independence, my sons have followed up that ignition and are achieving their goals and dreams. Michael recently graduated from Penn State University, summa cum laude in two majors. He is working a his dream job with DIsney Corp. Mitchell is about to begin his second year of college, with two majors and a hit country music radio show!
Seeing, knowing, and experiencing the impact that successful role models had on my sons is the reason I wrote my first book Thriving Blind: Stories of Real People Succeeding Without Sight. I had never, ever planned to be an author (and many of my English teachers needed oxygen when they got the news!). However, after seeing how the ignition of what is possible changes the trajectory of a person’s journey, I wondered what kind of human would I be if I didn’t share that knowledge.
If you would like to know more about the beginning of my journey (that I am not very proud of) and how my perception of blindness changed and ultimately changed the trajectory of my children’s lives, I invite you to download the Introduction chapter from my book. You can access it here.
If you would like to read the entire book, you can order it on Amazon here.
Kristin Smedley is a 2019 Champion of Hope Award winner. She is a two time Best Selling author, non profit leader and TEDx speaker. She originally planned to be a third grade teacher… and then two of her three children were diagnosed as blind. Kristin now speaks around the world sharing her journey to open the world’s eyes to seeing challenges and blindness differently. Kristin founded Thriving Blind Academy to solve the unemployment and literacy crisis in the blind community. Watch her TEDx talk here and order her book here. If you are interested to have Kristin speak at your upcoming virtual, live or hybrid event email her at Kristin@ThrivingBlindAcademy.org or download her speaker kit here.