By Ray Kornman
Some of you may know me from my time with the Seeing Eye, others may know me from the Joseph Kohn Training Center in New Jersey. Most of you though, I would imagine, know who I am from the film Going Blind. Honestly, I think I know who I am now from Going Blind! My experience with my vision loss has been quite a journey. I have met some of the most amazing people along the way. Without the love and support from family, friends and rehabilitation professionals, I could not live my life as I do today.
I know, and have seen first-hand, how this film has given support to so many in so many ways. Dealing with my own vision loss was extremely difficult because of my own ignorance about blindness, and even the ignorance of my own eye doctor! Spreading the word about this project has certainly been a personal mission of mine. I am happy to say that it has now become a professional one as well. I am pleased to announce that I am joining the Outreach team here at Lovett!
It’s quite interesting how I became a part of the project initially. It was in late summer 2007 that Hillary, one of the film’s producers, contacted the Seeing Eye’s Director of Communications with the interest of filming a student while training with their guide dog.
The process of training with a new dog is very complex and private. It just wouldn’t be possible. Hillary was then referred to me because I ran a youth program, which at the time allowed young students from across the country to see what life could be like travelling with a dog. We often filmed these events for our own promotions. We spoke several times briefly on the phone, and since all of the participants agreed, we arranged for the film crew to participate in the seminar.
The footage seen in the film where Joe and I are chatting is actually the first time that I met Joe. Apparently, what I had to say, as well as the fact that I was also going blind from retinitis pigmentosa, seemed to fit in well with the message of the film. The filming went great, and it was an awesome experience for the seminar participants, as well as for me! I think we all learned a lot those two days.
As well as in my work at the Seeing Eye, Joe also had interest in my personal story. I was happy to be invited to be a character in the film. I’ve certainly been called a character before! I was quite honored to be included and proud of my participation in the project. I felt that it gave me an opportunity to give something back. There have been so many that have helped me along the way. I certainly didn’t get here on my own.
I hope you will join me on social media to help spread the word about “Going Blind”, and to help support this project. Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. I will be posting there, as well as on the Going Blind website and our blog.
I am hoping to continue a dialog about support and advancements in eye treatments, cures and rehabilitation therapies. Information is power – let’s all share! You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter. Let’s start a conversation!
We all need the support of each other, in this, but also in life in general. No one can do it alone. So what I hope is that this film will continue to educate and inspire, and bring people out of the dark about vision loss.