I am currently training 7 days a week with Kai Handt at North Texas Equestrian Center or Excellence. Your funds help me greatly.
“Deborah McAlexander, you have Retinitis Pigmentosa and will be totally blind and totally deaf by the age of thirty.” These cutting words from a renowned retina specialist at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis were like a death sentence to me destroying my positive, energetic spirit and shattering my dreams. Accepting, understanding, and adjusting to blindness has strengthened my insight of complex situations and problems and has sharpened my foresight to navigate around, over, or under life’s obstacles and challenges. Blindness does not define who I am. Blindness does reveal who I am. Through my horses, my music, and my faith, I have learned how to Transcend and Transform Tribulation into Triumph and, in the process, I have discovered the key to a victorious life’s ride: all things are possible when one rides by faith, not by sight!
During Life’s Ride, bad things happen to good people; however, the battles we face and the obstacles we overcome, both personally and professionally, offer us endless opportunities to learn, grow, and prosper in spite of catastrophic circumstances. Throughout my lifetime, adversity has frequently bucked me off my horse, slammed me into one treacherous sinkhole after another, and buried me under shovel loads of suffocating dirt. Besides blindness, some of these “bad things” included:
• Abandonment at birth by my biological mother
• The divorce of my adoptive parents during my teenage years
• The death of my husband on November 6, 2017, after his fifteen-year battle with Parkinson’s Disease and Lewy Bodies Dementia
Because adversity happens to everyone, my story of overcoming trials and suffering cuts through every boundary between anyone and me. At the age of twenty-four, I was challenged to redirect the focus of my life when I became blind in my left eye, and the eyesight in my right eye was reduced to a five-degree field of center tunnel vision. At that time, I was a scholarship performance violinist at the St. Louis Conservatory of Music.
The ophthalmologist’s diagnosis, “You have Retinitis Pigmentosa and will be totally blind and totally deaf by the age of thirty,” plummeted my life into a downward tailspin of terror. Every morning I woke up wondering if I would be able to see or hear. My dream of becoming a professional violinist was shattered and my positive, energetic spirit was broken. For several years I wandered through life without direction, and yes, I did a splendid job of sitting on the “pity pot.”
Please study this copy of my visual field medical report. The red dots in the center of the crosshairs document the five-degree field of center tunnel vision in my right eye.
Dr. Robert Wankum, Ophthalmologist, Jefferson City, Missouri wrote, “Deborah sees the world as if looking through a straw. Despite this debilitation, she has learned to function with the limited vision that remains. She is an accomplished horsewoman, winning or placing in at least one hundred equestrian competitions. She falls off, dusts off, and then gets back in the saddle. This is courage in the face of fire! This is inspiration!”
Now that everyone understands how I see, imagine what it’s like for me to try to control a powerful, unpredictable, 1,200-pound horse with a mind of its own that doesn’t speak English?
My passion for horses and training for competition has taught me this lesson: victory is measured not so much by the color of the ribbon, the medal, one's wealth, or the position one reaches in life, as by the obstacles overcome while trying to achieve victory. Blindness does not define who I am. Blindness does reveal who I am.
I have exciting news about a significant change of direction in my Life’s Ride Journey! Recently, the International Blind Sports Association classified me as B2 which means Grade V for Para-Dressage competition. According to Laureen Johnson, United States Para-Equestrian Director, I am the only active rider with blindness disability in any of the five grades at this time. My mission is to qualify for the United States Para-Dressage Team and compete in Paralympics and World Equestrian Games. For these reasons, I have closed my piano studio after twenty-nine years of teaching.
This Para-Dressage Journey is estimated to cost $500,000.00. To gain financial support, I have successfully established a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, VISION BEYOND EYESIGHT INC, a tax-exempt public charity, which allows donors to deduct contributions made. The EIN is 83-2358219. Contributions may be sent to VISION BEYOND EYESIGHT INC, P.O. BOX 105242, Jefferson City, MO 65110. In addition, I will be preparing and delivering multi-media inspirational/motivational presentations. My piano performances, horse tales, and exciting visuals will educate, inspire, and motivate listeners. I believe I can help others achieve a triumphant ride in their performance arena of life. Please contact me directly to schedule a multimedia inspirational/motivational performance.
Please join me in making a difference. Any donation will help make an impact. Thanks in advance for your contribution to this cause that means so much to me.
Vision Beyond Eyesight, INC was created to educate, inspire, and motivate individuals to overcome adversity, failures, and obstacles in their lives. For more information about Vision Beyond Eyesight and Deborah McAlexander, visit visionbeyondeyesight.org.