A collage of the 22 community members who have shared their stories in 2018. Text on the image reads: #MyBlindStory: A Look Back and the BlindNewWorld logo appears at the bottom.

2018 has been another incredible year in the BlindNewWorld. We love hearing – and sharing – your stories of adventure, triumph, love, family, learning and so much more.

These stories are what keep us going – and what keep our community strong. And we don’t want you to miss a single one of them.

So to close out the year, we’re bringing together the full collection of 2018 #MyBlindStory posts. Get to know each and every one of the people who have shared their stories with us this year.

And if you’re feeling inspired – reach out to us and we’ll share yours, too!

As we head into 2019, please know that you are appreciated and a valued member of this community. Best wishes for a warm and happy new year with friends, family and people you love!

Casandra Xavier standing on a city street, holding her mobility cane and looking confident

Casandra Xavier

“I am extremely comfortable in my skin about my blindness. Because I was born this way, I have no desire to not be blind. I accept myself just as I am.”

Casandra (also known as CaspHer) is a disability advocate and assistive technology trainer for the deafblind and seniors in Massachusetts. She introduced herself to us in her post, Blindness Isn’t Me.

Julia - wearing a blue parka and red gloves - smiles as she makes her way to the summit

Julia Junquera

“I will never accept the phrase: ‘You cannot do that’ – even though they might call me crazy. There may be difficulties, but I will fight to try to live as a person with no vision problems.”

Julia is a 51-year-old woman from Zumarraga, a small town close to San Sebastian in the Basque Country, north of Spain. She shared her experience hiking a 3,000-meter-high mountain in the French Pyrenees in her post, The Summit Was the Way to Believe in Me.

Adam Roberge smiling, sitting in the driver's seat of a car

Adam Roberge

“I’m really happy with my job.”

Adam is a 24-year-old who has been blind since birth and interested in cars since preschool. In his post, Driven to Succeed, he shared his love for everything automotive – and how that put him on the road to a career in cars.

Eryn Austin, wearing a BlindNewWorld t-shirt, holds Primrose on her hip - facing her and smiling. Primrose is facing the camera and smiling.

Eryn Austin

“We get asked all the time, ‘Why did you adopt a child you knew would be blind?’ Our answer is ‘Why wouldn’t we?’”

In her post, We Can All Be Exactly Who We Were Made to Be, Eryn talks about how her family of four became a family of five in January 2016 when they adopted the brilliant, funny, intuitive and clever Primrose.

A close-up shot of Derek Daniel smiling for the camera

Derek Daniel

“It’s more than trying to do ‘amazing’ things as a blind person. It is about getting up every day and living your life to the fullest.”

Derek considers himself a husband, father and content creator – who just happens to be visually impaired. In his #MyBlindStory, Living My Normal, Blind Life to the Fullest, he encourages everyone to focus on whatever it is that makes them happiest.

Four-year-old Vicky, wearing a white shirt with blue polka dots, smiles for the camera

Silvia Cerolini

“The truth is simple: I want to thank Vicky for what she’s teaching us.”

Silvia’s four-year-old daughter Vicky is losing her sight due to a rare genetic condition called Leber Congenital Amaurosis. There are lots of ups and downs – and lots of lessons in between. But in the end, it’s all about Learning Through Love.

Kai Owens, skimboarding on an ocean wave. He's wearing black sunglasses, a bright yellow sun visor and a bright yellow jersey that reads BLIND ATHLETE over a black wetsuit.

Kai Owens

“Ever since I was a young kid I have been extremely involved with board sports and action sports. I loved skateboarding and skimboarding, and eventually picked up surfing. I began to find ways to continue with these sports no matter what would happen with my vision.”

Kai is the only sponsored visually impaired skimboarder in the world – he’s got sweet moves and has had some amazing experiences. Read all about it in his post, Trail Blazing the World of Blind Skimboarding.

Kristin Smedley and her three children smiling for the camera at a formal event. Her sons, Michael and Mitchell, are holding mobility canes.

Kristin Smedley

“…they are thriving – not just as blind children, but as kids in general.”

Kristin is an author, non-profit leader and TEDx speaker. Her two sons are blind – and her daughter was born into a family of full inclusion for them. And from the start, she set high expectations for all three children, which enabled them to thrive. Read more in her post Why I Learned to SEE: Set Extraordinary Expectations.

Wearing dark glasses, black snow gear, hot pink gloves and bright blue snowshoes, Begonia stands at the front of a group of snowshoers walking a trail on the side of a snowy mountain.

Begoña Manterola

“I was feeling really strong while doing it. I was comfortable, I was confident and I want to repeat it. This was the best experience I’ve ever had in the mountains!”

At the age of 70, Begoña decided to tackle a new adventure – snowshoeing. Read about her journey around the Larra-Belagua Nordic ski area in the Navarre Pyrenees in her post, Strong, Comfortable, Confident – and Ready to Do It Again.

Louie McGee (center) smiling with his IRONMAN medal and a bouquet of flowers. On his left is his race guide, Milan Tomaska, and on his right is family friend Steve Roeske - both of whom helped Louie through the last 12+ miles when he had no vision at all.

Louie McGee

“Nothing comes easy, but almost everything is possible. It is in that possibility that I see hope. Hope for me, hope for other kids just like me.”

Louie is a man on a mission – when he sets his mind on something, it gets done. When we first met him in 2017, he told us that Being A Kid Is Dangerous. But that was just his way of telling us that he doesn’t think kids who are blind or visually impaired should be held back from having great adventures. And he’s certainly not holding back. Read about just two of the incredible experiences Louie had in 2018 in his posts, Renegades and An Iron Will Makes An IRONMAN.

Jen and Menna at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Paralympics dressed in blue coats and red hats, wearing their silver medals while holding hands and raising their arms in victory.

Menna Fitzpatrick & Jennifer Kehoe

“’Just because I can’t see the stars doesn’t mean I can’t reach for them’ is a mantra of mine and, after winning in the Pyeongchang Paralympics, I can say it’s served me well!”

Menna and Jen won bronze, silver and, yes, gold in Pyeongchang this winter. Learn about how their teamwork makes their dream work in Paralympic Powerhouse: Menna and Jen.

Sue Ricketts presenting on stage at a Nystagmus Network event. The stage is bathed in purple light and she stands at a podium in front of the Nystagmus Network logo.

Sue Ricketts

“When my baby daughter was 6 weeks old, somebody wearing a white coat told me she was blind. She wasn’t blind. I knew that. But I also knew there was something wrong with her eyes. It turned out to be nystagmus. I’d never heard of it before. From that day on, our nystagmus journey began.”

The first time Sue heard the word “nystagmus” was when her six-week-old daughter was diagnosed. Decades later, they’re still learning together about this complex condition. Sue now work for the Nystagmus Network, which supports the nystagmus community, raises awareness of the condition and funds research. Read more about their journey in Our Nystagmus Story.

Noah Carver, wearing a BlindNewWorld t-shirt, practicing for his 8th grade celebration procession and recession using a rope taped down with painters tape as a guide to independently march into the gymnasium, through the music room and onto a stage.

Noah Carver

“Being blind, I am very aware of how access (or a lack thereof) can make or break the experience. How can you join in the game if you don’t have access to the playing field? That’s why advocating for access is something I have taken seriously from a young age.”

Noah is a 14-year-old blind skier, horseback rider, cross-country runner, Challenger Little League baseball player, singer, musician, voiceover artist, radio personality, advocate, student lobsterman, a huge Boston Red Sox fan and a “geek supreme” from a small fishing village named Beals Island, Maine. He’s also a fierce advocate for inclusion and access. Learn more in When It Comes to Demanding Access, Take the Big Swing.

Erica Powell smiles for the camera - she's in a gym surrounded by fitness equipment and wearing workout gear and holding a ball.

Erica Powell

“Blindness has taught me to love every single part of myself, and that has led to a life full of experiences I could have never imagined! Blindness does not define who I am, but it is one of the many qualities that make me who I am. I believe that when we fully love and accept every single part of who we are, we become unstoppable!”

Erica is a fitness professional, marathon runner and national keynote speaker. As a result of radiation treatment she received as a baby, she has been experiencing progressive vision loss throughout her entire life. In her post, Limited Sight. Purposeful Vision, she explains how, when she decided to take pride in who she was (blindness included), a world of opportunity opened up for her.

Dave Steele looks at the camera while holding his three books, Stand By Me RP (volumes 1, 2 and 3)

Dave Steele

“RP can still get me down some days … But I see the world in a way I never could have imagined before I started to lose my sight.”

Dave is singer and poet from the UK who, since being diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa in 2013, has dedicated his life to raising awareness for visually impaired people worldwide through poetry and music. When we first met Dave in 2017, he shared the story of his diagnosis. In this year’s post, My RP Secret, he wrote a poem for his daughter.

Guide dog trainer Andrea Inman smiles for the camera while sitting on the floor with an adorable golden retriever puppy in her lap.

Andrea Inman

“I am proud to tell people what I do for a living – and I’m proud to help educate others.”

Andrea gets to spend her days working with guide dogs in training – so the title of her post (Dream Job: Working with Guide Dogs) really says it all.

Jasmyn smiles as she works on her brailler

Jasmyn Polite

“Braille is great for me because I have glaucoma, a progressive eye condition that could blind me, so I must learn braille for my future as well as my braille teaching career. Glaucoma doesn’t scare me because I have braille as a back up in my life toolbox.”

Jasmyn is embracing braille – she loves it. And frankly, her enthusiasm is contagious. Her post, My Journey with Braille, explains why she considers it so important for her future.

Doug Goist, wearing a USA jersey, smiles for the camera in front of an American flag

Doug Goist

“’People who are blind play ice hockey? On skates? With sticks?’ Yes, we do … and so do players on teams in New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Colorado, Missouri—with new teams being formed across the country.”

In Miracle on Ice: Our Blind Story, Doug says that his teammates on the Washington Wheelers – a team of blind hockey players of all ages, boys, girls, men and women – are a reminder that the true measure of a person has nothing to do with the measure of a person’s visual acuity and almost everything to do with a person’s character, attitude, hard work and perseverance “in an often selfish, superficial, judgmental and uncaring world.”

Dan Mancina is skateboarding in an urban park - holding his white cane in his right hand while jumping high into the air as his skateboard spins below him.

Dan Mancina

“Skateboarding is the greatest feeling in the world – with it, I am able to show others who I am in the way I want to be seen. Not as helpless or someone to have pity or sorrow for, but rather someone who is able-bodied and happy.”

Dan loves the confidence, independence and self-expression he gets from skateboarding – and he plans to share that with others in his community. Get to know him in his #MyBlindStory post, Roll Forever.

A selfie of Laura wearing a large bow in her hair (top left) and Alex (bottom right) smiling for the camera)

Alexandra Lucas and Laura Busby

“Having a friend going through a similar situation was what we both needed.”

Laura and Alex met at the moment when they both needed a friend the most. And now, they’re sharing adventures and navigating visual impairment together as the duo known as Suddenly Sightless.

Jeremiah Fox, smiling and holding a mobility cane with a green handle, stands at the Lake Geneva Coffee Roastery storefront

Jeremiah Fox

“The important part is to learn from your mistakes. I believe we all have our own individual challenges we need to overcome to be successful. Whether they are socioeconomic, family issues, or a disability – whatever it may be – there are resources and opportunities for us all.”

Jeremiah, legally blind since birth, turned his passion for roasting coffee into a thriving business. In his post, Coffee, Community and Overcoming Challenges, he discusses how his company, Lake Geneva Coffee Roastery Inc., keeps customers well-caffeinated – and empowers blind and visually impaired kids in the local community.

Holly Tuke, smiling for the camera

Holly Tuke

“I’m blind, but I live a pretty normal and independent life. I have things that I want to achieve. I have goals and aspirations – and I think that’s what life is all about.”

Holly is a lifestyle blogger and YouTuber from the UK. In her post, You Don’t Need Sight to Have Vision, she talks about what influenced her decision to share her day-to-day experiences – from makeup tips and concerts to challenges at school and work – with the online world.

How has blindness impacted your world?

Add your voice to #MyBlindStory. Send your entry to blog@blindnewworld.org or use our online form.