No Sight, No Limits
Often times in life we allow circumstances around us stop us from achieving our goals or living our dreams. Here are some incredible individuals who accomplished amazing things in spite of the limitations—blindness—life threw at them.
Marla Runyan (Athlete)
At the age of nine, Marla Runyan developed Stargardt’s Disease—a type of muscular degeneration that made her blind. Determined, she went to study at San Diego State University where she began competing in numerous sports events, winning four gold medals at the 1992 Summer Paralympics and a silver and a gold medal for shot put and pentathlon respectively at the 1996 Paralympics. In 2000, she participated in the Sydney Olympics, which made her the first legally blind athlete to compete in an Olympic event and by 2001; she had won her first of three consecutive 5000-metre National Championships.
John Bramblitt (Painter)
John Bramblitt lost his sight in 2001 at the age of 30 due to complications from epilepsy. After a period of depression, Bramblitt finally found his release in painting. According to him, he found a way to identify the colours by touch because all the colours feel different to him. He also said that when he mixes colours, he usually feels them until the texture is right. His work has been sold in over twenty countries and he has been featured internationally on several platforms.
Derek Rabelo (Surfer)
Derek Rabelo was born with congenital glaucoma, but this didn’t get in the way of him learning how to surf at age of 3. From his perspective, his faith plays a big role in his life and all that he does, stating that with God all things are possible. Joining the surf community in Hawaii, Rabelo relies on his other four senses to ride the waves even in times of high tides and side shore winds.
Taiwo Lawal (Photographer)
Taiwo Lawal was born blind along with her twin sister Kehinde. Growing up was difficult for the twins, who were raised by their mother alone in their village in Ondo State. This didn’t stop her from developing skills in arts and crafts. Lawal learnt bead making and bag making before eventually learning photography, using her sense of touch and sound. She visualises the image she wants to take in her mind and works with her other senses to bring it to life. Her works have gained her notable recognition, especially on the International Day of Persons Living with Disabilities.
Dumisani Ntombela (Football Coach)
Turning blind at the age of one when a cancerous tumour spread from his right eye to the left, growing up in South Africa was not easy for Ntombela. He developed a passion for football and, although he never had any formal training, became one of the most respected football coaches in South Africa. He is the founder and coach of the female football team he led to the Sasol Safa Women’s Football League, making him the first blind man to achieve that. He was also interviewed by Super Sports for his amazing feats.