Huge Impact on my son’s life
by Barbara Incandela
I first learned about Beyond Blind Institute from my son Richard’s eye doctor at Bascom Palmer following his tragic motor vehicle accident in February of 2011. Richard had suffered a severe traumatic brain injury which resulted in his loss of vision. At our appointment with Dr. Moshfeghi, we learned for the first time that he was now legally blind. The doctor recommended to us that we contact Joyce Gugel at the Beyond Blind Institute for information regarding their programs. I am so grateful that we were given that information at such a critical time in my son’s recovery.
Not only was Richard having to recover from the traumatic brain injury and the loss of two fingers from the accident, he also had to deal with the trauma of losing one’s sight. We were desperate for help and direction as we navigated some very unfamiliar and, frankly, frightening terrain. We needed to find something that would help him find some meaning and purpose in his life after facing the reality of a future without his sight. We found just that organization in Beyond Blind Institute.
From our first conversation with Joyce, we felt the love and support that permeates every activity and group event. Joyce quickly invited Richard to join the fitness classes as a first step in becoming a BBI regular. Richard found the fitness class and the camaraderie of the group to be a huge help on his road to recovery. He soon started to attend the Sightless Chef and Brushes of Blindness classes, which provided him with a purposeful framework to his week as well as some confidence in his future. He has made friendships and connections with the other group members, including going out for dinner at times. Richard also participated in the BBI Blindfest last fall. With Joyce’s encouragement, he even took the stage playing his guitar – for the first time since losing his fingers! I am so grateful that he has had the opportunities with BBI that have made such a positive and remarkable change in his life.
Through our association with Beyond Blind Institute, I have found Joyce Gugel to be a remarkable woman! In spite of her own vision loss, she is one of the most energetic and positive people I know! Her attitude is such a perfect model for the members of BBI an I am so thankful that my son has the chance to interact with her on a regular basis. She is constantly coming up with new ideas for events and programs for the BBI members. Her dedication and enthusiasm toward the group is unending. She gives tirelessly of her time, energy, and resources – and for that I am so grateful. She is a true friend to each of her BBI members, even having them over to her home for a beautiful holiday gathering. She is my son’s biggest cheerleader and constantly reassures him of his bright future ahead, in spite of his loss of sight. She has literally provided the path so that he can have a life beyond blindness.