About Sight By Another Name

As a kid, my dad always read me the Dr. Seuss book, “A Fly Went By.” I hate that book… I am severely visually impaired so a book about a mysterious, black, flying monster was not my favorite while falling asleep. I was born with abnormal or nonexistent rods and cones which makes it extremely difficult to see in bright light and long distances. Despite my lack of sight, I managed very well as a kid. I could participate in school and play at recess with only minor adjustments. With some help from my innovative father, we figured out ways to play outside together such as stringing Christmas lights around a make-shift baseball diamond with glow-in-the-dark frisbee bases and my dad pitching from five feet away. At a young age, my parents introduced me to therapeutic horseback riding and I instantly fell in love with horses and anything to do with them. Once I hit middle school, life became a bit more challenging. At this age, my friends were beginning to branch out and go places without their parents. For anyone with a visual impairment, this can be stressful and worrisome and it was exactly that for me. Despite tricky social situations, I found an interest in learning and dedicated myself to my schoolwork. By this time I had become pretty good at riding horses and enjoyed the physical outlet as well as the mental break from preteen drama. Then came high school. I struggled more than ever to fit in and negotiate through the complex social circles but I eventually found my “home group” of fantastic, loving and supportive people. Schoolwork became much more challenging both visually and academically. I in a sense, “graduated” from therapeutic riding and began training at an able-bodied barn and with doing this, I discovered my life’s passion; dressage. The intricate movements and intense harmony between horse and rider had me captivated. As I entered my Junior year, something just wasn’t right. I was struggling to see more than usual and the normal adaptations for school weren’t working anymore. With time and much frustration, we figured out that I was losing vision. The natural progression of the disease in my eyes was suddenly set in action. I cried a lot out of frustration and out of loss. The struggle often seemed insurmountable. But within the storm, my faith in Jesus Christ skyrocketed to a whole new level. Knowing that He was always by my side was often the only thing keeping me going. Now as I enter the summer before my Senior year, I am embarking on a new adventure. In January of 2012, I applied to be a recipient of a Guide Dog for the Blind and I was accepted. Soon, I will travel to Oregon to receive training with my new companion and guide. I am beyond excited and so ready for the challenge. After getting through my Junior year, I feel there really isn’t anything that can hold me down.

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4 Responses to About Sight By Another Name

  1. ctoering says:

    Hi Ali,
    This is Cindy Toering, Cameron’s mom (retha’s puppy raiser). We can’t tell you how much it means to us to be able to read your blog and hear about you and retha! It makes it all worth it to see how much you love her and I hope that you two have a wonderful life together. Retha was Cameron’s first Guide Dog puppy to raise, and meeting you and seeing Retha graduate with you is everything we could have hoped for and more! Congratulations and best wishes for the future!

    • Ali S says:

      Oh thank you so very much! I cannot begin to explain how grateful I am to have Ritha. It is people like you and your son that make such profound differences in the world. I am so excited to meet Cameron and hear all about Rithas puppyhood! God Bless you and your family.

  2. Lance Peters says:

    Hi Ali,
    I am very excited for you and look forward to meeting your new buddy. Thank you for taking the time to share this exciting experience with us through your blog. Keep the updates coming.
    Mr. Peters

  3. Ali, it was great meeting you and Ritha in Snohomish on Saturday. (I was with Tucker the therapy dog in training in one hand and the ice cream cone in the other.) I can tell that Cameron did a great job at raising Ritha and that you and Ritha have started to partner together well.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and your faith in Christ Jesus on your blog. Through your courage, strength, and faith in Christ Jesus you will bring hope, courage, and strength to countless others. You are truly an amazing young woman whom I am glad to have met.

    My wife and I are really hoping that you and Ritha will visit our Guide Dogs for the Blind Puppy Raising club “Puppy Guides (PuppyGuides on Facebook)” on Monday nights at 7pm at Mill Creek. You visiting will bring smiles to everyone.

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