‘Night Steps’ in Surrey for woman unable to see the world in colour

CNIB fundraiser "under the stars" at Holland Park on Sept. 26

Cherise McGee and husband Dylan Okeymow at a recent Tough Mudder obstacle race in Whistler.

Cherise McGee and husband Dylan Okeymow at a recent Tough Mudder obstacle race in Whistler.

SURREY — An event at Holland Park this month aims to give people a sense of what it’s like to be in the shoes of Cherise McGee and others living with visual impairment.

The CNIB Night Steps 5K fundraising walk is held “under the stars” on the evening of Saturday, Sept. 26.

Last year, the event was held in Abbotsford, and McGee was there with her family to enjoy live music, a barbecue and other attractions.

“It was really great, a fun night,” McGee told the Now.

McGee has a rare eye condition called achromatopsia, which leads to low vision, severe sensitivity to light and the inability to perceive colour.

Essentially, she sees the world in black, white and shades of grey, but that hasn’t stopped McGee from leading an active, entrepreneurial life.

The 34-year-old mother of three volunteers with CNIB to build awareness and raise funds in support of vision rehabilitation services for people living with blindness or partial sight. She also runs Chylan Emergency Gear Inc., a Langley-based business, with husband Dylan Okeymow.

Together, the couple recently did another Tough Mudder obstacle race in Whistler.

“In some ways I overcompensate,” Cherise said of her supposed disability, “but I think my whole family is better off keeping busy and jumping into every opportunity we can to challenge ourselves.”

Because McGee’s eye condition is rare, it took some time for doctors to diagnose her when she was a kid.

“It was exasperating in the beginning because no one was listening to me about what I needed. But, by the time I was 14, I found my voice and started to self-advocate.”

School was a challenge.

“I couldn’t see the blackboard, which put me behind in math and spelling,” McGee recalled.

“Learning to self-advocate was necessary to my academic success, but it’s hard to be perceived as different. I spent a long time pretending that I didn’t have special needs in order to fit in, and to this day I regret doing that.”

With the help of CNIB, she began using an optical device called a monocular, which allows her to see what others can up to 100 feet away, and she also makes use of accessible technologies like the iPhone. CNIB helped McGee obtain funding to offset some of the costs associated with acquiring assistive devices, and she credits this assistance for completing her post-secondary education and starting her own business.

Her next aspiration is to mentor teens with disabilities.

“I know what it’s like to feel lost at that age,” McGee said, “but I also know from first-hand experience that it’s possible to overcome the challenges of having a disability: set and achieve goals.”

For CNIB Night Steps in Surrey, McGee has formed a 15-member “Chylan” team to raise funds for a cause close to her heart.

“How we experience life comes down to choice,” she said. “I live by the rule that it’s my choice to wake up and feel sorry for myself or not, and I choose happiness.”

Registration for CNIB Night Steps begins at 4 p.m. Sept. 26. To get involved as an individual or team, visit the event website, Cnibnightsteps.ca, or call 1-844-810-5408.

tom.zillich@thenownewspaper.com

 

 

Just Posted

Surrey Fire Service battled a dock fire along the Fraser River late Friday night (June 18). It was on Musqueam Drive, near Industrial Road, around 10:45 p.m. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Fire engulfs pier on Surrey side of the Fraser River

Dock has reportedly been unused for a long time

Launched in January, Uplift Canada was founded by Tsawwassen resident Maggie Larocque. (submitted photo)
Surrey shelters get clothing collected June 26 by Uplift Canada

Book a pickup on website of the new non-profit, founded by Delta resident

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Gary Abbott (left) and Louis De Jaeger were two of the organizers for the 2014 Spirit of the People Powwow in Chilliwack. Monday, June 21, 2021 is Indigenous Peoples Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of June 20 to 26

Indigenous Peoples Day, Take Your Dog to Work Day, Onion Rings Day all coming up this week

Central Okanagan Grade 12 grads are set to get $500 each after a more than $1 million donation from a Kelowna couple. (File photo)
B.C. couple donating $500 to every Grade 12 student in the Okanagan

Anonymous donors identified as Kelowna entrepreneurs Lance and Tammy Torgerson

Rita Coolidge played the main stage at Vancouver Island Musicfest in 2017. (Black Press file photo)
This year’s Vancouver Island MusicFest to virtually showcase beauty of Comox Valley

Returning July 9 through 11 with more than 25 hours of music performances

British Columbia’s premier says he’s received a second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. (Twitter/John Horgan)
B.C. premier gets 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

John Horgan shared a photo of himself on social media Friday afternoon holding a completed vaccination card

A lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018.THE CANADIAN PRESS
No winning ticket sold for Friday’s $70 million Lotto Max jackpot

The huge jackpot has remained unclaimed for several weeks now

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Most Read