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#47 3 Inspiring Blind People -

Can you imagine?

  • Being blind and surfing?
  • Being blind and painting?
  • Being blind and competing in the Olympics?

What’s the most amazing thing you ever heard a blind person was able to do? Millie  (my mom) was an inspiration to me. She didn’t surf, paint, or compete in the Olympics, but she amazed me simply by where she went with her white cane.

How many of us would be brave enough to walk around the block with only a white cane and / or peripheral vision to guide us? How about going to the mall without a sighted person to help. Millie used public transportation to get there and identified the location of the shops by smell and sound. When with her, I learned to smell the candy store (that’s an easy one) or a shoe store, or the pretzel vendor simply by smell.  

Here are three stories I pulled from the internet and would like to share with you. Here’s the link for more stories like these:


The Blind Surfer

Derek Rabelo isn’t your average surfer. Far from it, since Derek was born with congenital glaucoma. However, that didn’t stop the 20-year-old Brazilian from learning to surf when he was just three years old.

“With God, everything is possible,” he says, and religion does play a big role in his life: his church helped take him to Hawaii last winter, where the surf community took Rabelo under its wing. Relying on four out of five senses, Rabelo is the protagonist of the upcoming documentary “Beyond Sight.”

The Blind Painter

John Bramblitt lost his vision in 2001 when he was 30 years old due to complications from epilepsy. At first, John says he lost hope and was in a deep depression, but then he found an outlet: painting. Since John can’t see colors, he has developed a process whereby he paints by touch. According to the artist, the colors feel different to him: white is thick and black is a little runny, so when he needs gray, he mixes the two until the texture is right. His art has been sold in over twenty countries and he has appeared internationally in print, TV, and radio. His work has received much recognition, including the “Most Inspirational Video of 2008” from YouTube and three Presidential Service Awards for his innovative art workshops.

The First Blind Athlete in the Olympics

When Marla Runyan was 9 years old she developed Stargardt’s Disease, a form of macular degeneration that left her legally blind, but that never stopped her. In 1987 she went on to study at San Diego State University, where she began competing in several sporting events, and her career took off until she won four gold medals at the 1992 Summer Paralympics, and at the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta she took silver in the shot put and gold in the pentathlon.

Her career as a world-class runner in able-bodied events began in 1999 at the Pan American Games, where she won the 1,500-meter race. The next year, she placed eighth in the 1,500-meter in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, making Runyan the first legally blind athlete to compete in the Olympics with the highest finish by an American woman in that event.

By 2001 she won her first of three consecutive 5000-meter National Championships. She also released her autobiography “No Finish Line: My Life As I See It”. In 2002 she added the road 5K and 10K National Championships and married her coach, Matt Lonergan.


Readers: Would you like to tell us about someone who is an inspiration to you? If you are blind, what do you do that amazes others? Please tell us about your accomplishments. No need to be shy about this.

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