Penn Street’s life abruptly changed paths at age nine after being bitten by a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake. The medications that saved her life triggered a life-threatening diagnosis of Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS). SJS took most of her vision and impaired her vital organs, but did not steal her tomboy spirit. It was then that she began her “No Barriers” life.
Penn’s career path is full of amazing adventures and inspirational people. Penn has been a special ed teacher, a full-contact self-defense instructor, manager of a national photography studio and gallery, and outreach manager for nonprofits. Penn shares her tom-boy spirit in everything she does. If Penn tells you she knows you can climb a mountain, you will find yourself climbing a mountain.
Penn has worked with the “Who’s who” of Hollywood but meeting Erik Weihenmayer after he summited Mt. Everest put all others in the shadows. Meeting Erik opened the path Penn had been searching for. Her passion for living a life facing barriers and crashing through them was in perfect alignment with the nonprofit organization that Erik had founded, No Barriers USA. Penn found her tribe!
Penn’s life at No Barriers touches everything and everyone she encounters. Her leadership and public speaking skills are assets to the large number of volunteer organizations she is involved with, including the Lions Club International and the National Federation of the Blind. Penn has chaired several boards and commissions advocating for people with disabilities including lobbying for bills in Washington DC. Penn practices what she preaches and will never ask others to do what she is not willing to do herself.
Penn has lived far beyond the expected time the medical profession had given her. Each time she checks off an item on her “bucket list,” like raft the Grand Canyon; experience the buffalo and grizzly bears of Yellowstone; she adds new ones, like hiking Spain’s Caminito del Rey trail or visiting all of the Five Blue Zones of the World.
“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller