In order for me to go to Kenya, I need to complete 80 hours of local service, 40 being at a main service site. I chose to serve my hours with the UCB (Utah Council of the Blind). Through this experience I've met amazing woman and heard so many incredible and even some hilarious stories. I've loved working with such inspiring woman who don't let their disability be a defining factor in their lives and instead make it an ability. This past weekend, I had an AMAZING opportunity to attend and volunteer at a conference in Park City run by the UCB. The conference was amazing with so many opportunities for me to meet and get to know some inspiring woman.
Throughout this conference I learned many lessons, but the one that was more prudent then the others was this: "We all have a disability-- some are more easily seen, but there is something we all struggle with and we can either let that one thing define us or let who we truly are define us." I'm going to talk about 5 different woman that I've had the privilege of becoming friends with and who have taken this lesson and embraced it.
The first inspiring woman is Cordy. Cordy is amazing at needle art, knitting, crocheting, sewing and cooking. She knits cloths, blankets, sweaters, and scarves, and I've never tasted anything that Cordy has made that isn't delicious! (Her fudge is TO DIE for!) But what amazes me most about Cordy is she has Ushers Syndrome, which causes one to loose their sight and their hearing. Even though Cordy is deaf and blind, she doesn't let that limit her at all.
The next woman I had the privilege of talking with is Lynn. Whenever I talk with Lynn she is just so happy. She's been burdened with many health problems, yet she never stops smiling! Lynn is completely deaf, but can partially see. She is the sweetest woman and I have been so blessed to meet her.
Lynn and Me
The third woman I've been able to know my whole life and get to know even better through this experience is Leslie. Leslie is one of the most selfless people I know. Her willingness to serve and to make sure everyone is taken care is beyond inspiring. Leslie and her husband live on a farm. She has a giant garden that she takes care of all by herself and mows the lawn. She also takes care of some of the farm animals. Leslie is completely blind, but she doesn't let that stop or limit her. She has truly tuned her disability into an ability.
The fourth woman that is extremely inspiring is Aunalie. Aunalie is currently going back to college to peruse what she loves. She used to be able to see pretty well, but eventually she lost all of her sight. She has had to learn how to use different technology than she used when she first went to school and has had to change the way she does some of the most basic things. Aunalie is like my aunt and I just love her. She's awesome and inspires me every day!
The last inspiring woman I'm going to talk about is the president of the UCB. Anna is the most fun-loving woman you will ever meet. She lives for adventure and making sure everyone is having a good time. She works with people who are visually impaired or totally blind and teaches them how they can still do everything they could before. I have had the pleasure of being blessed with this woman as my mom. Before anything else, she is the most amazing and nurturing mother anyone could ask for. My mom is the best example of not letting her disability define her. I've had people ask me if it's hard having a mom who can't see. Honestly, no. I wouldn't change my mom for the world! She has taught me how to serve, love, clean, cook, and -- best of all -- enjoy life. My mom's disability has never been a burden for me. I actually forget quite often that my mom can't really see because she's so independent. Just because my mom was given this challenge doesn't mean she's less of a mother. She's an amazing woman and I love her.
Anna, Utah First Lady Jeanette Herbert, Me
I've been so extremely blessed to get to know these inspiring woman. I couldn't ask for such amazing examples and people to look up to. There are so many more woman who I want to talk about and thank for helping me grow so much. These woman understand that just because they've been given these challenges, that doesn't mean they can't do things. They have taught me that your challenges don't define you, they help shape you. Nothing can stop you from achieving what you wish to do besides yourself.
With members of the UCB
I decided to wear my Statement Maker graphic t-shirt because that's what these woman are. They know what and who they are and they own it. They aren't their blindness, they are them; Cordy. Leslie. Lynn. Anna. Aunalie. Each one of them has taught me to also be a Statement Maker. I've learned to embrace my weaknesses and not let them define me but help me grow.