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Learn how embracing help from others can change your life (and theirs!)

I can’t figure out why my teenagers would rather watch some stranger play a video game on YouTube than hang out with me.

I get beyond annoyed with a distracted driver texting at a red light—or worse, while they zoom down the highway!

And when it comes to the vitriol and rude comments posted so often on an online news story? Forget about it!

In a world where we seem to disagree on so much, we can all agree technology has the ability to bring out the worst in us.

And yet, my friends, despite the dissension technology may cause and the distraction it so often becomes, it can also be the source of profound beauty, wonderful connection and unyielding hope. I was reminded of this truth over the holidays as I spent time with my friend, Greg.

Always bright, energetic, and determined, Greg received his private pilot’s license at age 18. With clarity on what he wanted to do and an uncommon drive to get it done, he was on his way to living his life’s dream of becoming a commercial pilot.

His promising future, however, suffered a devastating setback as the result of a head-on collision with a distracted driver. Although Greg miraculously survived the accident, he lost his ability to see. More than just robbing Greg of his eyesight, though, it also stole his vision for his future, his sense of purpose and the ability to do the very thing he was most passionate about.

No surprise to his parents, however, Greg applied the same tireless gumption he’d shown his entire life to impressively adapt to a new life as a person who is blind. That includes adapting to his new circumstances, continuing to show up fully in life and even grocery shopping and cooking for himself.

My friends, as a person able to see, I struggle getting the right ingredients at a store. (If you ask Beth, I struggle even with where things are in my own kitchen!) In asking Greg how he managed all of this by himself, he shared he doesn’t always have to. Sometimes he’ll ask for help from others in the store, but typically he just utilizes a free, crowd-sourced app for the visually impaired called Be My Eyes.

The service connects sighted volunteers with blind and low-vision people at a moment’s notice via a video call on their smart phones. Any time, day or night, someone who is unable to see can use the app’s video connection to ping a volunteer and obtain help with tasks big and small. Which of these spices in my cabinet is basil? Is this milk expired? Is the men’s room door on the left or the right? How many more bus stops are left on my route? Does this tie go with this shirt?

 The interactions are fleeting, but the overall impact lasts far beyond the call. It not only allows users like Greg to enjoy meaningful and active lives, it allows the volunteers to contribute to something bigger than themselves.

My friends, we live in a highly independent world where individuality and personal accomplishment seem prized above all else.

We are taught to believe that we can do anything on our own if we work hard enough.

We learn that asking questions or seeking help suggests weakness.

But in reality, we do so very little on our own, are made to be in community with others and ultimately to be of service to one another.

And so much of what we accomplish as leaders in life is directly because of the help we received, not in spite of it.

As we begin this new year, let us embrace the no-strings-attached asking and receiving of help that users of Be My Eyes have. Let us resolve to let others know that they matter, that they are seen and that they are an important part of our journey.

And let us remember, like my friend Greg reminds me, that in spite of our various personal challenges, that life is a sacred gift, our challenges don’t have to negatively define us and our best is yet to come.

Today is your day. Live Inspired.

13 replies on “Be My Eyes”

Thanks for Sharing Joh . You’ve reminded me that no matter what happens it doesnt define us or limit us that were called to follow a different plan/journey than we thougjt but no less important. This past 1.5yrs I had a car accident, flu most of previous winter then Covid followed by Pneumonia & developed a blood clot, caught it in time (on oxigen to help when exerting myself during errands & chores) The above reminded me to count my blessings & trust in the Lord for this new road, & not to feel useless. Blessings to You and Family

Thank you for this story. It relates so much to the devotions my husband and I read this morning where a sight impaired person asked a sighted person to “be my eyes, not my brain”. Too often, we forget that one disability does not impair other functions. It’s great that this app is there to help those who need it.

Thanks for sharing this story. I am one who tries to be independent and don’t ask for help. I am very generous and always the first to help or take care of others. Notice before they ask to be there to help. I tend to pray and beg God to help me find the help I need which usually paying someone to help me. I know it takes the town to help me but don’t like to be a bother. AI

Wonderful, thanks very much for shaing this. Like others have commented, I have trouble asking for help so this story is very helpful to deflating my over-inflated ego and reminding me of the connections available to me if I choose to avail myself. I love to serve others but am not so good at allowing others to serve me even when I need such help.

Be My Eyes has significant St. Louis connections. They are a portfolio company of Cultivation Capital, an early-stage Venture Capital firm.

Paul Weber, Weber, a General Partner with Cultivation Capital, actively manages and supports BME. Joe Weber, Manager-Accessibility Solutions, graduated from Kirkwood High and Indiana University and is responsible for sales and growth in the United States and Internationally for Be My Eyes.

Thank you, John O’Leary, for bringing awareness to this amazing organization, and their impact on those visually impaired. Continue the great work Paul and Joe and the entire Cultivation Capital Team

I absolutely love Be My Eyes- every time I get a call to help someone my heart is so full and I am teary eyed of joy! So easy to help and it is truly rewarding!

What a beautiful and encouraging story you share, John. Thank you so much for your ministry and for striving to inspire!

I love this message! I have such a hard time asking for help of any kind. It makes me feel helpless and needy. The crazy thing is I love helping people and I never think they are helpless or needy when they ask me for help. I don’t know how to change this about myself.

Heading over to Be My Eyes right away! What an easy way to really make a difference in someone’s life. Thank you for sharing Greg’s story. What an inspiration he is.

I love this message! What a remarkable young man. The story and app are a great reminder that most people long to help, to support, to do good, to be of value. Wonderful message. Thank you!

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