At 15 years old, shortly after receiving his learner’s license, Dan was diagnosed as legally blind. His license was immediately revoked. Then, at 28, Dan was working at a local office supply company when he noticed his limited eyesight was blurring. Extensive testing found that his vision was deteriorating rapidly. Dan has retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative genetic eye condition that limits his peripheral vision, leaving him with only a small window of sight. He expects to go completely blind by age 35.
At United Way of Saskatoon and Area, we believe a strong community provides all residents access to both social and health related services to help them become active participants in society. This is why we support and improve access to programs and services through our Healthy People, Strong Communities focus area. We invest in a broad range of agencies and initiatives that provide a comprehensive circle of care for individuals and families – helping them to build skills and gain confidence. When the people in our community are resilient and equipped to thrive, our entire community benefits and prospers.
Due to his significant vision loss, Dan was unable to fulfill the requirements of his job, and he was subsequently laid off. This led to depression, and there were days when he found it difficult to get out of bed.
“It kinda felt like a death sentence,” he says. As the married father of three children, Dan made the choice to work with his diagnosis. He attended counselling, and worked with United Way-supported agencies to restore his sense of purpose and maintain a positive attitude.
“You can either take the victim mentality or, I call it, the victor mentality,” he says.
Nevertheless, there were more hurdles to overcome. Dan’s son was undergoing testing, and was eventually diagnosed with autism. The family once again received assistance from a United Way supported agency.
With the multiple challenges, regaining a sense of normalcy was critical. Dan’s network of family members and supportive agencies encouraged both him and his wife to return to school. They have both successfully graduated from college, and his wife has a new full-time position.
Dan is grateful for the support his family has received and feels his life’s purpose is to pass it on. “I discovered hope is more than something whimsical. Hope is a belief in a truth that’s real,” he says. “Realizing that hope through agencies like these is important. They have tools, keys to things that I didn’t on my own.”
At United Way, we believe in the power of the human spirit. Through our work, we strive to ensure that individuals have the opportunity to fully participate, engage, and feel included – resulting in strong communities.