Every year in the middle of July, the Lycoming County Fair Grounds in Hughesville comes to life with its annual fair. Friends and family reconnect over food, concerts and carnival rides. This summertime tradition is John Denmark’s favorite time of year. He takes a week of vacation to enjoy every minute of the festivities as well as his birthday, which falls during the week of the fair. Each birthday marks another year John has pushed himself to try new experiences and overcome challenges as well as enjoy the life he has worked very hard to create. It is a life John loves.
John was born with Nystagmus, which is sometimes called dancing eyes. It is a condition in which one or both eyes move uncontrollably quickly. Because of this condition, John is legally blind, wears glasses and uses Assistive Technology, like magnifiers, to see. At age 10, John was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism spectrum disorder. His elementary, middle and high school years were challenging for John, as large print textbooks were not obtainable, nor did he have access to the Assistive Technology which is currently available.
Two days before his 18th birthday, John’s beloved mother passed away. Before she died, John promised his mother he would make her proud. John has kept his word. He has triumphed over challenges, embraced new experiences, worked diligently and developed a social and professional network that feeds his soul and career.
“I have kept the promise I made to my mother,” John says. “I think she would be very proud of me and what I have accomplished.”
In 2009, John began his career at North Central Sight Services, Inc. (NCSS) as a general assembler. John loves challenges and expanded his career experiences to work in customer service, vending services for local businesses and organizations, as well as support at the receptionist desk. John currently works in the industry program where he helps customize flash drives and provide labeling services.
“I have loved all my positions at NCSS,” John adds. “I enjoy trying new things and pushing myself forward.”
Several years ago, at NCSS’s Golf for Sight fundraising golf outing, John helped demonstrate a new form of technology called eSight, which is commonly called electronic eyewear. The device is worn over the user’s glasses and uses a cutting-edge camera to compensate for gaps in the user’s field of vision. This was the first time John had ever used eSight.
“The minute I put on the device, it was like I had 20/20 vision,” John says. “I burst into tears because I had never seen the world so clearly.”
John’s coworkers have acknowledged his inspirational spirit and professional drive on several occasions. John has been nominated twice by his peers for the Milton J. Samuelson Career Achievement Award, which honors individuals who are blind and demonstrate career advancement at a National Industries for the Blind-associated nonprofit agency or in the private sector. The award is named after the late Samuelson, who was a strong advocate for upward mobility and placement programs benefitting people who are blind or visually impaired.
John has also been nominated for the UniqueSource Award, which recognizes the outstanding achievements of blind individuals throughout Pennsylvania.
“I am humbled my peers would nominate me for these honors,” John says. “I am so proud of the accomplishments of all of my coworkers.”
For more than 65 years, NCSS has assisted individuals who are blind or visually impaired to live independently and maximize their quality of life. The organization helps prevent vision loss through education programs and screenings for children and adults. NCSS offers adjustment services for people losing their vision, support services, employment opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired, and a prevention of blindness program.
For more information on vision screenings and related services, contact NCSS at (570) 323-9401.