Emma’s Story: The Winner’s Circle
When runner #10706 crossed the finish line at the 2015 ASICS LA Marathon, a 26.2 mile run brought an entire family’s story full circle. Her name is Emma Leitzinger and her t-shirt read Blind Children’s Center, representing the first school she attended. In many regards, Emma was no different from the other 25,000 runners on the course that day. Watching her race past with a long, natural stride, she seemed like a born runner.
Today, she is a junior at Santa Clara University where she is majoring in psychology. She plans to continue to graduate school and pursue a career in nutrition and fitness, inspired by a growing passion for running.
An avid skier, as well as distance runner, Emma’s advice to other young people who are visually impaired is, “You can do anything you set your mind to, you just have to do it differently.”
Nico, bright and social
After a year of watching their second child develop, Irma Gomez and her husband Sergio noticed something was different in the way young Nicolas studied objects, toys, and other children. “He would lean in closer or put objects closer to his face than you’d expect,” Irma remembered. “At first, we thought it was just Nico’s unique way of learning and interacting, but soon, we realized something was wrong with his vision.”
Nico entered the preschool program at the Center and began making strides almost immediately. “Nico is a typically developing child, except for his vision,” said instructor Raymond Ruiz. “Once we got him using a white cane and working on his pre-Braille skills, he really made strides quickly. Nico’s a very bright, social kid, so it was just a matter of finding the right routine and adaptive techniques to get him on the right track. He really blossomed.”
The future is bright for center alumna
Karen Arcos is a USC graduate and one of our most dedicated volunteers at the Center. She attended Blind Children’s Center from the age of six months through preschool.
The University of Southern California offered Karen a full four-year scholarship. She is one of only eight nationally to receive this scholarship. She hopes to one day be a clinical psychologist.
It hasn’t been easy for Karen. She has had to face many challenges getting to this point. Karen says that it is something you have to get used to when you cannot see. “Get used to doing more work,” Karen tells the children, “listen to instructions and follow the guidelines set forth by your teachers and mentors.” Karen has lived by those words and has never given up. We are proud of her and are excited to see all that her future will bring.