Mary Morgan Corbitt
Welcome back to Part 2 of my interview with Mary Morgan-Corbitt. Today, she’ll talk about her speaking opportunities.
Mary, just to recap from last week, can you share an anecdote from your life that taught you something about coping with vision loss?
Well, there have been many that have surfaced over the past few years. It seems that I am reminded of them just at the right time. My parents modeled having a strong faith through challenging times, and looking at things positively. This is not to invalidate the challenge, but to live in such a way, that the challenge doesn’t define you – and to look for what develops out of that challenge. I am so grateful modeled this for our family.
Entering the world of vision loss can feel very isolating. You are approaching something so foreign and frankly, very scary. So, I read a lot and I continue to make connections with others as I navigate myself. A dear friend of mine sent me the scripture from 2 Corinthians 5:7 that reads, “For I walk by faith, not by sight…” and this has truly become a scripture I hold in my heart.
How did you become involved as a speaker and what is your overall goal in speaking?
As I was learning more about vision loss, my own and that of others, I realized how many misconceptions are out there related to vision loss.
Many people believe, and I was one of them, that you either have vision or you don’t. There’s darkness or you can see fine. But in reality, many people who live with vision loss fall into a grey area.I felt there was this need for education. Helping others to understand what vision loss is, what it isn’t, what it can do, and what it can’t.
Many have some functional vision, which allows them to maneuver familiar settings, but may need a cane or physical assist in crowds. Or perhaps they can see directly in front of them, but nothing in the periphery or above or below them.
I am very involved in our local chapter of The Foundation for Fighting Blindness. We hold an annual Vision Walk, which raises funds to support research in finding a cure for retinal diseases. I was asked to represent our Vision Walk event by participating in a couple of radio interviews. For me, the topic of vision loss is very personal, and I found a level of excitement as I shared my own story through promoting powerful and necessary events like the Vision Walk – which connects people – and that is really what helps anyone during challenges- connecting with others.
I am finding my own voice in the public speaking world. My overall goal is to just communicate with others about navigating challenges and to provide encouragement. I just strive to continue to be open – open to God’s presence and to the doors of opportunity he presents.
I was also a speaker for Dinner in the Dark so I’m always curious as to how others become involved with this event. How did you hear about them?
I served of Co-Chair of the Vision Walk this year and was asked to speak briefly at that event. It led to a few more opportunities to be a voice for our local community. I am very grateful for that. I when I was asked to be the closing speaker at the recent Dining in the Dark event I was so honored and eagerly accepted. Of course, that didn’t go without some major nervousness regarding it all! There were other speakers as well. We have local sports celebrities present that serve as emcees and who present and honor local doctors, business owners, those who are making a difference in our community.
I was asked to share my story and why our family supported The Foundation Fighting Blindness. My focus was to have people hear that, yes, being diagnosed with anything that alters your life dramatically is overwhelming. But, it doesn’t have to define you.
What was your overall impression of this event?
This was our 2nd time attending the St. Louis Dining in the Dark. It is quite an amazing experience! First of all, you meet so many wonderful people. Many who have family members affected with a retinal disease – and there are always a handful of people who are directly affected, so connecting with each other is always fabulous! The presentations are inspiring and filled with hope that research is moving forward and the future truly looks bright for so many affected with blinding diseases.
The most enjoyable part however, is the actual dinner. Everyone is given a light darkening mask to wear throughout the entire dinner. You must rely on your other senses to navigate eating.
It is such an interesting experience for many! My husband said it was a bit claustrophobic for him, and really difficult to leave the darkening shades on the entire time. You can’t find your drink, or utensils and basically, everyone ends up just using their hands. So here we all are, dressed up for the evening, and eating with our hands! But it is so interesting to hear how the conversations at the tables shift. Suddenly, no one is as timid as they once were. With visual cues now gone, you have to rely on your other senses, which makes for very interesting and humorous conversations! It does take a while to adjust to your surroundings. But the key point is for those attendees who are supporting the organization, to get a sense of why we are raising funds for research. The dining experience in the dark really gives people a true sense of what could happen for many, and that supporting research is essential.
Events like Dining in the Dark and Vision Walk that are supported by The Foundation Fighting Blindness provide so much! They provide – Hope, Community, Education!
1: HOPE – When you have HOPE, you continue to move forward!
2: COMMUNITY –There is strength in numbers! The more people you meet that are facing similar challenges, the stronger you become. You find encouragement, support– you keep hope alive through supporting one another!
3: EDUCATION – We are in an awesome position to do GREAT things! Education is KEY and it can begin by sharing your story! Share your story!! It helps connect us to one another!
gf you have an opportunity to experience a dinner such as this, please do so! It is truly unique in that it forces you to utilize your other senses. Being out of your comfort zone is…yes, uncomfortable. But, so many amazing things can haame for it or ppen when we step out of our comfort zones. One of my favorite quotes is this:
‘A ship is safe in the harbor, but that is not what ships are built for’.
How intriguing does the Dinner in the Dark event sound to you? Would you be game to attend a meal or would that put you too much out of your comfort zone?
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