Chris’s Story

Chris is strumming his guitar outside on a summer day.

Chris Lechner has always loved music—all genres and styles. It’s been a steady soundtrack for his 34 years on this earth. But when he received a guitar for Christmas in 2021, the idea of actually learning to play the instrument brought a renewed sense of purpose to his life.

A life that has been without vision for the past six years.

Chris lost vision in both his eyes due to diabetic retinopathy from type 1 diabetes. In addition, uncontrollable pressure caused by glaucoma in his right eye made it necessary for the eye to be removed. He was left with only minimal light perception in his remaining eye and a lot to grieve—loss of job, loss of friends, and loss of independence.

Unfortunately, Chris experienced a lot of trauma and isolation as he learned to adapt to life without sight. Adding to his despair, he felt when he lost his vision, he also lost his usefulness. And he had no vision for his future simply because he didn’t think he had a future.

However, the gift of a guitar and the prospect of playing it was enough to turn Chris’s attitude from anguish to optimism. In fact, learning to play the guitar has become a bridge for rebuilding his future.

At the start of 2022, Chris engaged in weekly guitar lessons with Vision Forward’s music therapist, Emily Zajork, who was the only teacher he could find who would agree to work with a blind student. Learning to play the guitar increased his confidence and taught him just how much he really can do despite vision loss.

It also has given him new ambition for his future. Chris is pursuing additional training at Vision Forward to learn skills for orientation and mobility, braille, technology, and adaptive daily living to ensure that he can accomplish his life goals: Chris is regaining his independence and has meaningful employment. He’s on his way!

Chris’s story was recently highlighted at our Dining in the Dark event. Hear from Chris himself in this video.

Chris is an excellent example of the powerful impact donor support has on the individuals we serve. YOU have made a life-changing difference for Chris and all who come to Vision Forward for services, and we are truly grateful.

Thank you for investing in Chris and others living with vision loss.

Together, with your support, we can positively change the present and future of people of all ages who are blind or visually impaired.