“Don’t give up”

I want to stand-up in front of a group of Visually Impaired people and tell them “Don’t give up”

 Bill lost sight in his left eye at the age of 9, from a tragic accident.  The tip of a fishing pole hit the eye.  Then in high school, a baseball team member threw a ball and it errantly hit Bill’s right eye.  He was left with 15% useful sight in that eye.

These two incidents would change any person’s view of their future.  After all, college baseball coaches were watching Bill’s pitching with the potential for a scholarship.  That would never happen now.  And it was especially painful because his parents didn’t have the financial means to pay for his future education.  It would have been easy for Bill to decide that life didn’t have much to offer.  But he wasn’t going to let these challenges dictate his future.

Bill directed his life with a passion for accomplishment.  He managed to complete two-year degrees in civil engineering and automotive design engineering in the 1950’s.  But continuing his education waited as he worked as city manager for Hillsdale and helped raise his family.

In 1972, Bill saw an advertisement for Siena Heights College.  He hadn’t taken a college course in 20 years, but his passion helped gain entrance into the school.  By 1975, Bill had earned his Bachelors of Science degree in mechanical engineering.

Bill thought this would change his career path.  It did…but not in the direction he thought.  In 1980 he felt a call to become a pastor in the United Methodist Church.  Even with no undergraduate coursework in Theology, he was accepted into the theological school and completed his Master’s program.  Bill spent the next 25 years within the West Michigan’s Methodist Conference before retiring to his home in Allegan.  And lest this interesting fact be lost in Bill’s story, he designed and built the house in which he and his wife currently reside.

Along the way, Bill learned about ABVI and met frequently with our social worker.  For many years Bill harbored anger for his circumstances.  Said Bill, “there was no one to help pick me up in challenging times”.   But professional counsel from ABVI, and remembering his dad’s words to him as a young boy has proved invaluable.  He told Bill that “it was up to (you) to decide where you want to go in life”.

Bill’s relived those words many times.  He’s maintained a personal drive to be successful, a passion for people to improve their life situations and a genuine sensitivity to how he can be a catalyst for others challenged with vision loss.