Brad ice skated as a young boy. He enjoyed the sport with family and friends. Brad also watched skating on television until his teen years, when his vision was still fairly good. Around that time, he was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa. As his vision gradually declined, he eventually gave up skating.
Brad’s now 50 years of age, and he’s back on the ice. In fact, he’s a daily skater at Griff’s Icehouse in Grand Rapids. Terry, rink manager at Griff’s, was surprised the first time Brad came to the arena last October. Terry said “it was a surprise to me…Brad walking into the lobby with his skates. He asked me about our daily lunchtime skating. I’ve seen visually impaired skaters before, but not someone totally blind.” Brad’s quick to point out that Terry was very helpful and accommodating…”he never balked at my disability”.
Brad’s known well to others who enjoy the sport, including Shawnee who’s his coach. She’s teaching him advanced skills, including ice dancing. He started lessons last October, and plans to progress through different skill levels. In the beginning, Brad needed to pay attention to the rink boards. “I experienced a lot of “face plants” (onto the ice). But he’s progressing with jumps…using the sound of skates hitting the ice to help learn them. Shawnee is very patient with him, as she provides skills education and encouragement. And she’s quick to mention that “Brad has no fear”. That, and Brad’s eagerness to relive his childhood interests, is providing his momentum to be successful.
If you’re ever at Griff’s around weekday lunchtime, you’ll find Brad working out and plenty of others supporting his interests.