“Our 12-year-old daughter, Natalie, was diagnosed with a visual impairment at 9 months old. She has worn a patch since then and struggled to navigate the world around her. She’s always wanted to participate in sports and tried everything. However, her vision and lack of depth perception made it extremely difficult.
A year and a half ago, she wanted to try martial arts. We agreed, not knowing how this would work. We never told her no, always encouraged her to try.
It has become her passion. She not only loves it, she is excelling. She was even picked to represent Team USA this spring. This past weekend, she was invited to participate in a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Clinic with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, John Friedland.
After the clinic, I approached this machine of a man and asked how my sweet little girl did. She rocked it. I told him she was visually impaired and he was wowed, would have never known it. We started talking and he has poor vision himself. He explained that he wears contacts. I told him that just this past week, Natalie’s eye doctor told her that she could try contacts. She was terrified at the thought of trying them and immediately said no.
This world renowned martial artist had a Dojo full of people from all over waiting to talk to him, take pictures, etc. Before I knew it, he told Natalie to follow him.
He took the time to coach her to touch her own eye (the part she was scared of) and even ‘push it in’ gently. She was terrified; however, he gave her the courage that she needed to try. I have never seen a more gentle and kind hearted act or a better example of what a true coach, leader and role model is.
Needless to say, we are ordering contacts Monday morning.”
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