Cherise McGee recently competed in the Tough Mudder obstacle course in Whistler

Langley business owner part of CNIB night walk

A night walk with CNIB spotlights visual impairment.

by Tom Zillich/Special to the Langley Advance

An event at Holland Park in Surrey this month aims to give people a sense of what it’s like to be in the shoes of Langley business owner 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 said.

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 is a reporter at Black Press’ Surrey Now.

Just Posted

Langley photographer captures otters amid the ice

While photographing winter on the river, a local photographer was there when otters caught a fish.

Why some Langley sidewalks don’t get shovelled

All walkways are not equal under rules that give priority to higher-traffic areas

How much does your city spend per person on snow removal?

Black Press Media compares 2018 ice and snow removal budgets of various Lower Mainland communities

Stock trading allegations dismissed against former Langley spiritual leader

Investors allegedly lost $740,000 investing through a local religious organization.

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

Homeowners can get up to $14,000 for heating, insulation upgrades

B.C. man survives heart attack thanks to Facebook

A Princeton man suffered a heart attack while at an isolated property with no cell service

Abbotsford man sues Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party over trademark

Satinder Dhillon filed application for trademark same day Maxime Bernier announced the new party

New trial ordered over banning whales, dolphins at Vancouver aquarium

Park board’s appeal reverses previous decision that found it had no right to implement a ban

Most Read