ASRAB is proud to have Paul McKnight take on the role this year as Honorary Chair of our annual fundraising event, sight night. As a long-time active member, Paul has experiences he would like to share about how ASRAB has changed his life. Here is Paul’s story.
My name is Paul McKnight and I lost my vision due to a cancer called bilateral retinoblastoma at the age of 4. Growing up from childhood, blind was a challenge at times, especially when participating in the sport programs at school. Being like any other boy in my class I wanted nothing more but to rough-house, get dirty and of course have fun. But when it came to actually playing and competing in the gym I found that so many adjustments were made to accommodate my vision loss, it would become aggravating or down right embarrassing. I was never afraid of getting hurt but teachers and even fellow students would be very overprotective and I wasn’t able to get any real experience in physical activities. By the time ASRAB (Alberta Sports and Recreation Association for the Blind) came in to my life I had already given up on being active or showing any interest in any form of competition.
I will never forget that first day I went to an ASRAB activity (and to be completely honest I had low expectations because of the experiences I had in the past), I actually tried begging my mom not to make me go. It was the first time I ever played the Paralympic sport called goalball, and to put it simply I was absolutely and completely shocked! Going that day not only changed my life, but it made my attitude do a complete turn around. It’s where I learned about fitness, team work, competition, winning, losing and general toughness. I had the opportunity to learn both from coaches and trainers, who taught me my strengths and weaknesses, and how to not only improve but to use skills that I performed well to help my teammates. I also challenged them, which is something I hadn’t had a real chance to do before… COMPETITION!
Ever since that first day I’ve tried everything that ASRAB has to offer. Whether it be playing on the Alberta men’s goalball team year after year or going to a walking club, lawn bowling, yoga, dragon boating, dance, etc… I’ve found a place where I can test my skills and my determination to win and improve against other people who share my experiences.
ASRAB is an organization that I will happily be apart of as a member and as a volunteer in anything and everything that they provide. Being selected to be honorary chair of 2015 for sight night is a huge privilege and an even bigger responsibility. I’m following in the footsteps of others who have held this position and I only hope that I can successfully represent the organization that has given me all these opportunities. I will never forget my first day walking into ASRAB, wearing a scowl that soon turned in to an enthusiastic smile.
Help keep a great place going and support ASRAB. Be a part of sight night 2015!