Manes: Woman has vision for herself despite blindness
September 3, 2013 12:00PM
Lori Vinson | Jeff Manes~Sun-Times Media
Interested in Lori’s classes?
Call 427-0541 or 682-4717. On the net: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated: October 5, 2013 6:06AM
“Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.
— Helen Keller
Lori Vinson of Gary has appeared on NBC, ABC and Fox News. She loves to water ski, jet ski, rock climb and speed skate. She looks forward to sky jumping and zip lining.
She has been legally blind since birth. Vinson will turn 50 on Wednesday.
“Lew Wallace. I had a research coordinator named Bashir Masoodi. He was my mentor at the time. Mr. Masoodi made sure all my papers and text books were read to me.
“I was in Miss Teenage Gary. While at Vincennes University, I was in the Miss Indiana USA Pageant. I won Miss Vincennes down there. I made a lot of money in those beauty pageants.”
My brother graduated from Vincennes University; he ran cross country for them.
“They had great pizza in Vincennes. I studied liberal arts down there. I love to dance and wanted to learn the technique of dance. While at Lew Wallace, I was part of the dance troupe. That was tough; it was the beginning of my discipline.”
“Not being able to see and having to take directions from instructors.”
Was Vincennes University the extent of your college education?
“No, I went straight from Vincennes to Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. I’m not an A student, I’m a working student. I’ve always held a job while going to school.”
Before moving back in with your mother here in Gary, what part of Chicago did you live?
“Hyde Park. I lived about four blocks from where President Obama lived. I love food and must say the Dixie Kitchen had some great coconut shrimp. But I’m really a collard greens girl. Most of the time I’d just order collards and corn bread — no meat.
“Last year, I graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City. It’s a supplemental certification I have for what I do as a fitness instructor. I rent space from the YWCA in Gary. I have my own business. Right now, I teach yoga. In a few weeks, I’ll be teaching a class in pilates. And on Saturdays I’ll be teaching ballet to girls ages 8 to 17.”
“On Friday, Sept. 20, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the YWCA, Lori’s Healthy Living Network will be sponsoring Girls Night Out! The event costs $20 per guest. There will be a spokesperson on hand answering questions and offering information on vegan oils, soaps and so forth.”
You have such a diverse range of talents and interests. It blows me away that a blind person would attempt rock climbing.
“Coming down is no joke. My first one was Pike’s Peak. I heard a man’s voice near me that sounded familiar so I asked him if he was Harrison Ford.”
“It was him.”
Wow. Do you have a favorite actor?
“Tom Cruise. ‘Ghost Protocol’ is my favorite Tom Cruise movie. I love action movies. I’ve heard he’s quite a character in real life.
“I always wanted to meet Donald Trump, and let him know there’s an outside world that he hasn’t tapped yet — people with disabilities. I’ve met Benjamin Netanyahu and Colin Powell. They are really down-to-earth people. The one thing Colin Powell left me with was ‘never let anyone put you down.’ Benjamin Netanyahu was a friendly man. He showed me the gift of grace.”
How about someone you’ve looked up to in your personal life?
“I admired Bishop Brazier because he was a strong, spiritual mentor. He was my pastor at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago.”
“I’m single and not dating — I’m used to working. I’ve been working since I was 16. If I meet someone, he better have a job and have his bills paid. I pay my bills and I work for my food.”
“Jeff, the bottom line is I have goals and visions that I want to accomplish. Not just for me, but for other people. I’d like to become a moderator or motivational speaker. I want to be remembered as a person who tried. And as a person who got it done.”
Lori Vinson ... A blind girl with vision.