I used to say my dream job was to be an ‘Explorer.’ No, not in the child-like sense, (well, kind of), but in the National Geographic Magazine kind of sense.
See, I really love photography, and I really love animals. Plus--I’ve sort of been struck with wanderlust since the get-go.
When I received my first DSLR as a Christmas gift when I was about 18--one click of that shutter and I was hooked.
I took pictures of everything. My dorm. Bugs. Running water. Dogs. Lots of dogs. My dog. My parrot. My sister. The things I love and tried to appreciate everyday. I photographed the things I thank God for and never want to forget, ever.
This month is disability awareness month, and losing my sight seems to be my own, personal, absolute nightmare.
I learned this was a nightmare of my own after encountering someone who National Geographic actually named the 2015 Adventurer of the Year, Lonnie Bedwell-- an extreme sports athlete who lost his sight in a hunting accident, (He became an extreme sports athlete after going blind...he’s just that amazing).
He had happened to be speaking at the Linton Public Library, which is right across the street from my own news desk, and I had happened to have been hired on as a Staff Writer for the GCDW just a few months prior. (I internally freaked-out)
Recently, I saw on Lonnie’s Facebook page that he visited Sullivan High School for their first annual ‘Disability Awareness Days’ on Friday.
He said the event not only taught students about different disabilities, but helped students get an even better understanding with various stations. For example, he said students wore special goggles to mimic blindness and attempted to play a game meant for people who are blind or visually impaired at one station.
I remember after attending Lonnie’s presentation at the Linton Library that day how moved I was. I remember getting up in the middle of the night that night, and instead of turning on a night light to find my way to the restroom, I decided to feel my way through the darkness, thinking to myself, “I’ll try this for Lonnie.”
I fell down loudly, woke my husband up and ended up having to turn on the light--I nearly scrambled in panic to the switch.
I reflect on how terrifying it would be to not be able to turn that light on--for that darkness to never go away. To never see another moment through my camera lense or to see if I’ve made a mistake typing on my computer screen--things that seem simple to me which I do every day.
What an important feeling for us all to be aware of, as according to indianadisabilityawareness.org adults and children with disabilities represent more than 19 percent of Indiana’s population.
So maybe tonight, if you are suddenly awoken, try to feel your way through the hallway of your home--for Lonnie. For the nearly one fifth of Hoosiers who are disabled.
Kelly is a Staff Writer for the Greene County Daily World. She can be reached by telephone at (812) 847-4487, or she can also be reached via email at kslavenGCDW@outlook.com.