As a young child growing up in Ethiopia, Ethan was kidnapped, blinded, and forced to work as a beggar. He remembers that day, how they held him down and poured chemicals into his eyes: “It was like a wrestling match, but I was little, so I lost that match.” Within a few days, he’d lost his sight completely.
Ethan was adopted and brought to the United States, but his barriers were not behind him. The physical, cultural, and emotional struggles of having to learn two new languages—both English and Braille—while confronting the prejudices faced by people who are blind were daunting. Despite it all, Ethan thrived. He completed college, found meaningful employment, and created a new motto for himself, having learned that: “Wanting it won’t get it for you. You have to go get it.”
Last summer, Ethan received a scholarship to attend the No Barriers Summit at Lake Tahoe, California. The experience left him even more determined than ever to break down any barriers in his way.
It was the fall of 2013. Kristan Seaford, a 38-year-old stay-at-home mom with five young children, had so far managed to avoid the bugs that her kids had been passing around like balls. She liked to think that her flu shot and her cardiovascular health were providing her a protective shield – she was an avid runner and taught classes in weight training and athletic conditioning.
However, Kristan’s life screeched to a halt and then veered in a new direction when catastrophic illness struck. What began as the flu and strep throat turned into pneumonia and a life-threatening condition called septic shock. After 100 days, a medically-induced coma, six hospitals, and a miracle, she survived.
However, the powerful treatments and medications that saved her life also changed it forever. Today she lives as a triple amputee, with her remaining foot missing the toes and heel.
And she is as busy as ever – parenting those five children, driving them to various activities, volunteering at their schools, and even teaching group exercise classes again at the YMCA. She has also become a motivational and faith-building speaker, a personal counselor, blogger, and writer.
Barbara Henry is a single mother of a 15-year-old boy with autism named Justin. Barbara is legally blind and wants to empower herself and Justin to function to their fullest capacity in the community. Whether it is navigating travel or dealing with people of different views and opinions, she wants to teach her son to advocate for himself.
From her time at the No Barriers Summit at Copper Mountain, she had the opportunity to get her spark back and truly get a sense of experiencing this amazing social, physical and empowering Summit.