Blind students, adults take part in White Cane Awareness Day

By Tracey Amick  bio | email

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) –  Being blind doesn't mean you can't be successful in most any field and it doesn't even prohibit you from being an athlete. Just ask Peter Alan Smith. Smith has run the Boston Marathon twice, he plays golf, he sails and he rides a bike tandem, with his friend David Purcell.

"People still have this idea that blindness is akin to being dead- it's the end of the world, but it's not," said Smith.

Smith led a blind bike ride parade on Friday from the Visitor's Center to Marion Square as part of White Cane Awareness Day.  Students and adults took part in the parade, and then a talent show and obstacle course at Marion Square.

The Charleston Police Bike Patrol escorted the group participating in the program.

"We already know the value of safe cycling and truly appreciate the work the bike patrol does to keep us all safe," Smith said. "I feel that their participation will help raise awareness about the good work they do and also help Charleston's citizens better understand the potential within its blind community."

Smith has been blind for more than 20 years, but that hasn't stopped him from getting a Master's degree from Harvard or pushing himself to accomplish amazing physical feats.

Still, Smith says it can be frustrating when blind people are not treated with equal respect.

"We tend to be treated as if were children, when I'm seated at a restaurant the waitress will not ask me  what I want, they'll ask someone else seated at the table what he'd like-he'd like you to ask him what he wants," said Smith.

Smith calls  riding his bike the "joy of movement", and says the only limitations are those you put on yourself.

"If someone tells you cant do it the next question is why can't I do it?," said Smith.

Copyright WCSC 2010. All rights reserved.