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My name is Renee Emmerson and I have been diagnosed with a retinal degenerative eye disease that has taken away my central vision, and my peripheral vision is poor without using aids and/or assistive
technology. Anyone that has lost their vision understands how difficult this journey can be but I am a person that does not give up. So even with this medical challenge, I am always pushing myself to do more. I want to show I can do anything a sighted person can do but I just do it in a unique way. My eye disease is my badge of honor; it forced me to be creative and not be complacent. That is how I live my life, always taking on any challenges due to my vision loss and conquering it, and that fueled my desire to do more. I wanted to give back to organizations that have helped me regain my mobility and independence.
In 2016, a donation to Pilot Dogs, Inc. was sent from the company I work for, VSP, of $10,000.00. This year, I am embarking on my first blind adventure to continue to rise awareness and money for the visually impaired and blind community. In 2017; I decided my first blind adventure will be to complete
a half marathon. I have met some awesome individuals that are active regardless of their vision loss. Those two individuals are Richard Hunter and his guide dog Klinger and Bill Barkley. From their stories,
it inspired me to be a blind participate in the half marathon on October 5th at Kanab, Utah. The theme of my adventure is Roxy’s guiding eyes. Roxy is my guide dog and she will be running with me for a mile at Grand Circle Trailfest, located at Bryce Canyon. I will then be joined by a sighted guide to run tandem to complete the run. In conjunction with my run, I am raising money for the blind school in New York
Guiding Eyes for the Blind. I have raised over $2000.00 so far. One hundred percent of the proceeds go directly to the school to help fund their guide dog running program, so other blind individuals like me can have the chance to run and be active. The fundraiser will go through December 31st of this year and people can donate by visiting my blog website and also follow my journey preparing for my first half marathon being legally blind.
I just want to empower others like me that with patience, motivation and determination you can do anything you set your heart too!
Founder of Dancing Dots
Bill has always had a love for music and teaching others. He has three girls and two boys. “They are all musicians and artists in their own ways” Bill says. “We have songwriters, guitarists, pianists, harpists, bass players, etc.”
Bill McCann came into this world legally blind and at the age of 6 he lost his sight completely. By 9 years old he was learning Braille music and his new passion was the trumpet. Growing up, Bill attended a wonderful elementary school for the blind called St. Lucy Day School. It was a progressive school right from the start back in 1955. He received an excellent Catholic education from the sisters who also taught him to read and write in braille. Bill also attended Monsignor Bonner, his local high school, where he was the only blind student in his graduating class of 466 boys. He went on to study at what is now called the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where he earned his Bachelor of Music degree. After graduating from that program, he accepted an offer from an oil company called Sunoco. He worked there for almost 10 years as a programmer analyst in the payroll and benefits area. He left there in late 1991 to start what became Dancing Dots.
In 1992, Dancing Dots was founded by Bill to help blind and low vision musicians to independently read music, write their music down, and to record their music. His company created the world’s first commercial braille music translator software, GOODFEEL® and has pioneered in the area of creating what he calls “accessible scores”. Their latest product enables low vision musicians to read and to write magnified music in an accessible environment. Dancing Dots also markets an access solution for creating professional-sounding, multi-track audio productions.
Today, Bill is celebrating 30 years of marriage with his lovely wife, their 25th year anniversary for Dancing Dots and just last month marked the 20th anniversary of the release of our very first product, the GOODFEEL® Braille Music Translator. Dancing Dots has customers throughout the United States and in over 50 other countries. Mr. McCann has presented at numerous international conferences and has taught at a variety of music camps in the U.S. and Canada.
Tom Cochrane's "Life is a Highway" song has some very inspirational lyrics. I have wondered what the speed limit would be to live life. My mother has said I learned how to run before I learned how to walk. It seemed as though I had always lived my life around 80 mph so to speak, often going beyond the limits that she thought would be best for me, well below 55 mph.
From an early age I viewed the world as an open highway with no limits. I was always on the go with volunteer activities, working, traveling, spending time with friends and family. It wasn't until I experienced vision loss that I slowed down. I thought I would never experience life the same way as I had always lived it. I had hit a speed bump.
Without my vision, my view of the world changed. My life's highway was now closed for construction. I was upset, angry, depressed. For almost three years I never thought I would experience the adventure of a limitless highway again.
It was only when I became involved in rehabilitation services that I began to feel as if I could get up to speed again, that I began to have hope, courage to move beyond the darkened door of my vision loss.
My view of the world was changing again. I met others who lived with disabilities and felt empowered. I learned how to navigate the sometimes rough roads, and was anxious for the open highway again. After some time in rehabilitation with Vision Services and with determination I felt I had my keys back.
In 2013, I received the Youth Empowering Independence award from Goodwill Easter Seals, led the accessibility initiative in the Miami Valley through accesstogether.org and presented at the Serve-Ohio Conference on Service and Volunteerism in 2015.
I am now aware that life has speedbumps, not only for myself but for countless others. I am continuing my life’s journey with a college education in business management and administration, serving as Vice President of the Miami Valley Association of Volunteer Administrators and being an advocate for people with disabilities.