2019 Challenge of Living Award: Mark Yendes
I lost my vision due to going to play at a school yard and being attacked when I was five and a half years old, and left there to die. Well, when I was a kid, my mother was convinced that braille was not reading, but she didn't believe that I was blind, that I had any real visual loss and it wasn't that big a deal. Not being able to complete high school left a big scar on me. I'm like, I don't know what to do now. I can't read because I could not see the print, but I didn't have the ability to learn braille. Having that on my heart for years going, okay, I'm useless and I'm worthless because I don't have a diploma but I have a job.
Once I learned I could not just learn the braille but go after my high school diploma, I was seriously excited and my wife just pushed me forward to go after it. How long did it take? And we went back and it actually took me what would have been four years of nonstop work and courses being mailed to me in order to get it completed. I would probably never have had this chance. And if I hadn't learned about Hadley when I did, the course might have disappeared and I would have been still out there going minimum wage, don't have a diploma, can't make people happy. And I wasn't happy. But I am thrilled and I find myself going back and looking at my diploma and saying I did it.
And when I put in an interview, go to an interview and I walk in with my resume, I know the resume has me on it, not just the words that my wife came up with and printed out saying, well this is what you can do. Now I can look at it and I can write it myself and say, yes, but this is what I now do, and I'm able to do with confidence that I, I didn't have this kind of confidence before, but I never looked people in the eyes before. Now I have the confidence to hold my head up and look at people who are in authority over me instead of just looking at their feet.