THE LOSS OF ONE SENSE HELPED ME FIND THE MEANING OF LIFE

Ondřej Zmeškal brailovo písmo

I STARTED NOT ONLY TO SURVIVE, BUT TO THRIVE AGAIN.

I am a blind professional athlete, writer, and motivational speaker. Perhaps not to miss something, I was born prematurely in January 1991, and from the beginning, I had to fight for my life in an incubator. I survived, but high doses of oxygen damaged the vision in my left eye and three-quarters of my hearing. The doctors managed to save my right eye and I had a fairly carefree childhood. I ran around with the other kids, dreaming of being a famous athlete one day, not bringing myself to admit that anything should be different.

As I grew up in a village “in the middle of nowhere”, I chose to study and pursue a career as a gardener. I enjoyed my independence… Until the day my classmates and I were moving some furniture and while lifting a cupboard, a strange mist appeared in my good eye. Not even immediate surgery could save the cracked retina, and so, at the age of 20, total darkness surrounded me. At first, I experienced depression and fear of people’s reaction when they see me with a white cane. Instead of a stellar sporting career, I was going to be dependent on the help of those around me for life. Oh, no! I remember sitting alone in my room, my head in my hands… And suddenly it dawned on me, “You can either keep sitting here, feeling sorry for yourself, or you can just get up and give your life a good kicking!” Then I began not only to survive but to learn to live again.

I LOVE CHALLENGES TO SHOW OTHER BLIND AND SIGHTED PEOPLE THAT EVERYTHING'S POSSIBLE

One day a friend of mine, Lukáš, came up with an offer: “Ondra, why don’t we start running together? Maybe one day we can run at the Olympics!” I thought he was crazy, but I immediately put my running shoes on. At first, I ran with my guide dog Black on the way to the train station in the morning. Soon after, I finished my first race and realized that my childhood dream of becoming an athlete was coming true! From that moment on, the desire drove me forward and never left me. With every obstacle, I surpassed myself until I fought my way to participate in the most challenging race worldwide. But medals are not the main thing. My biggest motivation? To help other disabled, but also able-bodied people and to become a living inspiration for them not to quit. After all, we only have one life, so let’s live it!

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