Contributed photo                                Mike Schickerowski, 44, was finally able to get his driver’s licence earlier this month. The Benalto man was born legally blind and received surgery in 2018 to correct his vision.

Contributed photo Mike Schickerowski, 44, was finally able to get his driver’s licence earlier this month. The Benalto man was born legally blind and received surgery in 2018 to correct his vision.

‘Absolutely incredible’: Alberta man born legally blind finally gets driver’s licence

Mike Schickerowski signed up for experimental surgery in California to correct his vision in 2018

Mike Schickerowski went through a long journey to get his driver’s licence.

The 44-year-old man who lives in Benalto, which is west of Sylvan Lake, Alta., was born with nystagmus and had been legally blind for most of his life.

“By 11 months old, my mother had identified the problem,” said Schickerowski.

“The doctors said that it would be very difficult going forward in my life. They said I would never attend public school. I would never play sports. I would never work in the workforce, and I would never drive a car.”

Nystagmus is a vision disorder in which the eyes make repetitive, uncontrolled movements.

Schickerowski proved the doctors wrong on many fronts throughout his life. He attended public school with the help of special accommodations, became a provincial wrestling champion, captained his high school football team, and has worked in the “computer field” most of his adult life.

But, one thing the doctors were right about was that he was unable to drive.

“It felt like something I was missing out on. My goals for driving changed over the years. When I was young, it was more about growing up – you sort of move from being a child to an adult and gain your independence,” said Schickerowski.

“But at my age now, it’s felt more like I’ve been missing a connection with my family, my children specifically. I didn’t have the ability to take them to soccer practice or bring them out to get ice cream. All of that had fallen onto my wife’s shoulders.”

His children are 15, nine and seven.

Schickerowski signed up for experimental surgery in California to correct his vision in 2018. Shortly after the procedure, his eyes had settled “slightly out of place,” so he needed to return to California for a second operation.

After the successful surgeries, Schickerowski got his learner’s licence and was finally able get behind the wheel, as long as there was a supervisor in the vehicle.

“Driving’s scary at first. It was hard and I couldn’t believe how much you need to be aware of when driving,” he said.

“I was certainly a nervous wreck at first. But I pushed myself pretty hard – I drove … as frequently as possible. Every day, I pushed myself. It took about three or fours months to be completely comfortable.”

Schickerowski was set to do his road test to get his full licence in April, but COVID-19 delayed his plans. He was finally able to take his road test earlier this month and passed on the first try.

“I can take my kids fishing. I can take them to get ice cream. Even just to go out and pick up parts for something around the house or garage. I’m able to just do that on my own now when I need it, when I want to. It’s an absolutely incredible feeling.”

Schickerowski says is “it’s important for people to realize we shouldn’t give up on our dreams.”



sean.mcintosh@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Alberta

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Mike Schickerowski, 44, was finally able to get his driver’s licence earlier this month. The Benalto man was born legally blind and received surgery in 2018 to correct his vision. Contributed photo

Mike Schickerowski, 44, was finally able to get his driver’s licence earlier this month. The Benalto man was born legally blind and received surgery in 2018 to correct his vision. Contributed photo

Mike Schickerowski, 44, was finally able to get his driver’s licence earlier this month. The Benalto man was born legally blind and received surgery in 2018 to correct his vision. Contributed photo

Mike Schickerowski, 44, was finally able to get his driver’s licence earlier this month. The Benalto man was born legally blind and received surgery in 2018 to correct his vision. Contributed photo

Just Posted

The Comox Valley Sports Centre re-opened in the summer. Photo supplied
Comox Valley Sports Centre Commission chair commends staff efforts in challenging year

Comox Valley Sports Centre Commission chair Daniel Arbour delivered a year-end report… Continue reading

The Lamplighters wants to end its lease with the village. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Briefs: Cumberland agrees to end hall lease with Lamplighters

Council aims to add more daytime meetings in 2021 for seniors

A rendering of the proposed window covering and sign for the business planned for downtown Cumberland. Image, Village of Cumberland report
Cumberland approves location change for cannabis permit

Site next door to the one planned seen as more financially feasible

The DPAC is holding an online forum on Nov. 30 for candidates for the upcoming school district byelection. Screenshot DPAC poster
Online forum for Comox Valley school board byelection is Nov. 30

Six candidates have filed papers to fill the trustee position in Area C

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Brenda Schroeder thought she was reading it wrong when she won $100,000 from a Season’s Greetings Scratch & Win. (Courtesy BCLC)
New home on the agenda after scratch ticket win in Saanich

Victoria woman set to share her $100,000 Season’s Greetings lottery win

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

Most Read