Seeing The Good In Life Doesn’t Require Vision

One Northern Michigan hiker won’t let his disability get in the way of his love for the outdoors

“I had a house, a family and then everything changed within 6 months” says Tom Ogden of Cheboygan who lost his eyesight 2.5 years ago to a rare genetic disease called Labors Hereditary Optical Nephropathy.

Ogden says losing his eyesight was extremely difficult after living a healthy life for many years. “It was pretty bad. I thought life was over. I thought this is it. Who am I now? I can’t work – I can’t do anything.”

As an avid hiker Ogden knew that the one thing the disability wasn’t going to take away from him was his love of wandering off the beaten path.

“I’ve always loved hiking even before I lost my vision and afterwards. Out here it’s peaceful, you clear your mind and yeah, being blind makes it more difficult but it’s something I still love to do.”

Over the past 2.5 years Ogden’s completed hikes that most wouldn’t even attempt like 350 miles of the north country trail, 700 miles of the Appalachian trail and a section of the pacific crest trail. Going all those miles doesn’t mean he didn’t lose his way and struggle.

“When I get off trail and I’m out by myself and I get 10 feet even 100 feet off the trail and trying to find it again, proves to be quite difficult at times but you stay calm and just try to find your way,” Ogden says.

As a Diesel Mechanic for many years Tom worked 60-80 hours a week. Now he is learning that life is about making memories and creating experiences. “That’s what life’s more about for me than to just have objects. Having objects doesn’t mean anything to me really much anymore.”

Now Ogden realizes that looking for the good in life doesn’t require vision – it just requires an open mind and a willingness to take a chance.

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