Wednesday, March 16, 2011

British schoolchildren thrilled to meet "world's fastest blind man"

From The Witney Gazette in the UK:

The official fastest blind man on the planet gave an inspirational talk to Bampton Primary School pupils.

Steve Cunningham (pictured), who was left blind at 12 after developing glaucoma, gave a talk about his experiences on Friday.

He is officially the fastest blind man on the planet after breaking world speed records on land and sea, and becoming the world’s first blind pilot.

In 1999, he hit 147mph in a Chrysler Viper, capable of 180mph.

He has also played for the England Blind Cricket Team and the English Blind Football Team.

The 48-year-old said: “It was really good, as many of the children had never met a blind person before, so it was about raising that awareness.

“We talked about aspirations. Some had great ambitions, and some had very little, so we looked at why. It’s all about confidence.”

Mr Cunningham, from Banbury, said: “We all have barriers to overcome. I lost my sight, so I wanted to show how you overcome things.

“With the world records, it puts little lights on in their head and encourages them to think differently and get on and do what they want to do.”

He added: “I was like them at that age, I could see. So people shouldn’t take things for granted, as you never know what’s around the corner.”

Headteacher, Mary Dodge, said: “Steve Cunningham is truly inspirational, a real life hero.

“Both staff and children were moved by his courage and vision.”

She added: “One 11-year-old boy told his teacher afterwards: ‘Wow, he’s amazing. Now I have a role model’.”