I scheduled a doctor's appointment for April 20th. On April 15th I had a stroke. When it happened, my dad was on his way home from the hospital. He had had cataract surgery. I was completely paralyzed on my right side.
I went to Riverside Hospital in Kankakee then transferred to Rush hospital in Chicago where I stayed for an additional two weeks. Eventually I went to a nursing home called Our Lady Of Victory where I was confined to a bed until I was strong enough to sit in a chair. I went to physical and occupational therapy in a wheelchair where I worked very hard. Over time I went from using a wheelchair, to a walker, then a support cane and ultimately a white cane.
I was very fortunate to stumble upon my very good friend, Nancy... we were in a classroom with other children who had similar disabilities as we did. Nancy had a heart defect along with a learning disability, and I was, and still am, visually impaired as well as having a hearing disability. Our friendship developed helping and supporting each other during school days. For example, when we went down the hall for different activities, she would guide me safely to and from our destination, and I would counsel her when she needed advice.
I thought about all the different people I learned about growing up and the differently able community was the only group left out. Growing up black, I know what it's like to be different. I know what it's like for people to look at you weird on public transportation or for people to talk to you like they’ve never been around “your type” before. That happens when a person really isn’t educated about a certain community. As a kid I was never really taught about blindness and how it affects a person.
Pathways 2015 brought a diverse group of blind and visually impaired youth from all over Chicagoland. Students began by meeting the Pathways staff, reuniting with friends from previous summers, as well as meeting new friends.