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Peter D’Elia: Update

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Peter D’Elia, 95, now lives with his wife of thirty-plus years, Peggy, in Massachusetts. Peter continues to draw and work as an architect, as well as golf with his longtime friends.

After first hearing about his macular degeneration, Peter was in disbelief, remembering immediately blurting out, “are you kidding me”, after his doctor told him the news.

Peter only wishes he could have seen Going Blind when he was first aware of his illness as he considers the film to be encouraging for people who are going through similar issues like he has and lauds the project for showing how much help is available.

Feeling extremely lucky to love what he does for a living, Peter remains stubborn about ever stopping to challenge himself, and has consistently taken what comes his way with an unquestionably positive, willing attitude. This attitude, Peter claims, is one of the main reasons he was able to persevere and preserve a life filled with his passion, and he continues to pass down these values to his grandchildren. Peter’s next stop is going to New Jersey to celebrate his birthday with his friends, and then visiting his family in Newport to play golf.

Ray Kornman: Update

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From Ray Kornman, August 2017

Since my appearance in the Going Blind movie, my life has had some dramatic changes.

Shortly after the release of the film, my employment and the employment of several of my associates was terminated at The Seeing Eye. I filed suit against the organization for sexual orientation discrimination.

After two years of depositions, The Seeing Eye settled with me outside of court.

I then relocated to the Richmond, Virginia area to be near my brother and my parents. Both of my parents passed away from cancer within the past two years.

Although my transition to the south was or originally planned to be temporary, I have seemed to make some permanent roots here. I fell in love, I have created some new relationships, and rekindled some old ones with family members. For the first two years in Virginia, I worked from home during customer service for tax preparation company.

Since then I’ve become a student working towards a degree in social work and psychology.

Jessica Jones: Update

By | Jessica Jones, Updates | No Comments

Jessica Jones has been teaching art at Lavelle School for the Blind in the Bronx for the past eleven years. As the only blind teacher, Jessica continues to thrive in the school community and serves as a strong role model for her visually impaired students. Jessica loves to see parents experience their children surpassing expectations in the classroom. She puts faith in her students and has high hopes that each will graduate by the age of twenty-one and continue on to college.

In 2016, the Lavelle School’s administration approved and supported Jessica’s pitch to hold an art exhibition of her students’ work. The second annual Vision of Art show took place in April of 2017, receiving attention from the Bronx Times it was an inspiration to the whole community, including the parents and students who realized accomplishments through Jessica’s guidance.

The Going Blind film offers hope to those dealing with vision loss and Jessica only wishes that this film had existed when she was first losing her sight. She wants parents of blind children to learn from the film, as well, and from her personal story as it offers a teacher’s perspective into this world.

People still recognize Jessica from Going Blind, they remember her story and oftentimes approach her on the street to share their own stories with her. Jessica hopes people will continue to reach out to blind people on the street to connect, to share, and to offer help.

Although her seeing-eye dog in Going Blind, Chef, has since passed away Jessica now entrusts her new dog, Willy. Jessica credits Chef with teaching her how to become more aware of her surroundings and values the companionship and security that guide dogs offer those who are blind.

At the same time that Jessica wants people to be inspired by her story she also wants people to understand that losing one’s vision is difficult and can be very scary. However, she prefers that people refrain from calling blindness a disability – according to Jessica, blindness shouldn’t hold anyone back from realizing their dreams and living a full life, just like she does.  She’s proud of her perseverance but wants it to be understood that she was “utterly terrified but would not let that hold [her] back.”

Visit Jessica’s website at: https://jessikajonz.wordpress.com/

For World Sight Day: Where are they now?

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After filming ended for Going Blind, the lives of our main characters changed in many profound ways. We’d like to share with you, the audience, how the compelling stories of these characters did not end when principal shooting did.

After leaving Hines Blind Rehabilitation Center in 2008, Steve Baskis became involved with the United States Association for Blind Athletes (USABA). This partnership led him to Paralympic training facilities across the country to help prepare for the 2012 Paralympic Games. Steve has climbed mountains and competed in races all over the globe. In July 2011 Steve visited Tanzania as a part of a service project to provide medical aid to blind albino Africans. Steve is pursuing a career in public speaking in order to share his story with the general public.

In the last year Jessica Jones suffered two difficult setbacks. Her beloved guide dog, Chef, died of a brain tumor and she was severely affected by complications from an ankle fracture. However, never one to be easily discouraged, Jessica persevered. She is now back to work at the Lavelle School, fully healed, accompanied by her new guide dog, Willie. She also started a website that includes a digital portfolio of her work with students.

Emmet Teran is a sophomore at Loyola High School in Manhattan. Coping with albinism, Emmet plans to get involved in blogging with fellow teens through a support group called, “Positive Exposure.” Just like we saw in the film, Emmet is still doing stand up comedy and still loving it.

Pat Williams has not let her disability get her down and has enjoyed her life since we last met with her. Pat still works at the Veterans Administration and is poised to celebrate her 30th anniversary at the New York Harbor Health Care System.

When Ray Kornman was interviewed in Going Blind, he worked as an outreach coordinator at the Seeing Eye in Morristown, New Jersey. He is no longer at the Seeing Eye and plans to continue his work in the vision services field. Ray still lives in New Jersey and is looking forward to what the future holds.

Peter D’Elia lives in New Jersey with his wife Peggy. They are both enjoying their retirement. They are traveling around the world like never before having recently visited France.