Sunday, June 13, 2010

When one door closes...another door opens

Those were the opening words of the speech I gave Friday evening at the BVRS fundraiser. After reading my book Echo of a Raven, the prolific book  about my struggles with diabetic retinopathy, my challenging 16 week stay at the agency BVRS (Blind and Vision Rehabilitation Services) of Pittsburgh, the chairman invited me to be the guest speaker for the auction fundraiser on June 11th. Overwhelmed, and by no means, a public speaker, I just kept thinking how much the agency changed my life by teaching me how to use a computer with adaptive software, converting texxt to synthesized speech. Without their help, I would not have found the courage to face a sighted world I was once part of. Part of the reason I was reluctent to enroll in a program for the blind was because I felt clients would be uneducated. I was a professional, after all. What could I possibly have in common with those people? I was wrong. I met doctors and nurses, teachers and engineers, all with one common thread. We were all losing sight due to circumstances beyond our control. Some had the added burden of facing a marital crisis because a spouse could not accept the blindness. We laughed and we cried. We bonded in a way words cannot express.  I was one of the lucky ones. What didn't kill me made me stronger.

When I left the program, I enrolled in creative writing classes, searching for a new way to channel my creative muse of painting. Slowly but surely, doors to publishing houses opened. At a conference, I met Liana Laverentz and she introduced me to The Wild Rose Press. My first three stories are published through them, now with White Rose Publishing, all edited by my wonderful editor Lori Graham. Doors have continued to open for me, all due to my faith and strong will to never give up on a dream.

Friday night was like Cinderella. They treated me like a queen. The second I walked in with my family, a photographer was there from the Tribune-Review snapping photos left and right. The newspaper did a full-blown article on me which will be featured soon. I had my picture taken with the Pitt Panther coach after my speech and brought the house down and earned a hug from him when I ended my speech with "Go Pitt!" The auction was held in the practice field where the college team and pro team (Pitt Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers) practice. Local celebrities were there and sports shirts and so much more was auctioned off. Thirty copies of my book Echo of a Raven were auctioned. Oh, what a night. The photographer asked me if any of my books had ever been reviewed by them. I said no and he asked for my business card and said he would see that the reviewer got in touch with me. Doors continue to open. I lost my sight but gained a bigger and more compassionate heart. BVRS has asked me to help promote them and have added my photo and story to their website. Here it is below. I feel truly blessed and have learned that God never lets one door close without opening another...an another...

IT’S PARTY TIME AT BVRS!


Meet Pitt Football Coach Dave Wannstedt, pictured left, and tour the Pitt/Steelers Practice Facility at BVRS’ For Your Eyes Only 2010 Tailgate Party on the Southside from 7-10 p.m. Friday, June 11.

Enjoy a delicious buffet dinner, cocktails, and dance the night away to live music by the classic rock and roll band “Truth Be Told.” Reservations are required. Tickets are $75, with $35 of that amount tax deductable. For additional information, contact Blind & Vision Rehabilitation Services of Pittsburgh’s Development Department at 412-368-4400 or email inquiries to: dwoodfill@gphvis.org.

With Coach Wannstedt serving as auctioneer, you’ll have the chance to bid on autographed sports items, Pitt Panther Football Box Seats, a catered dinner in your home by celebrity Chef Bob Malone, a weekend at Seven Springs Mountain Resort and more.

And that's not all!

Pittsburgh author Sharon Donovan, pictured below, will be the guest speaker. At the tender age of 6, Ms. Donovan was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and told by her doctor that she would be blind by the age of 25.

Those words haunted the Avalon resident all of her life and when the doctor’s prediction came true, Ms. Donovan came to BVRS where she learned how to manage her life independently with blindness.

Ms. Donovan has told her story in her nonfiction book, “Echoes of a Raven.” Once an artist who painted on canvas, Ms. Donovan is now an author of several books of fiction.

On her website, www.sharonadonovan.com, Ms. Donovan talks about her transformation in a poem titled ‘Yesterday.’

It says, in part: “From the maze of mayhem and rubble a new dream resurrected renewing hope and inspiration for a brighter tomorrow. Today, motivated by new insight, instead of painting pictures on canvas, I paint my pictures with words.”



Ms. Donovan’s most recent work, “Mask of the Betrayer,” is a psychological thriller and is available at this link: http://www.whimsicalpublications.com/sharon_donovan/mask_of_the_betrayer.html

BVRS appreciates the hard work and dedication of the For Your Eyes Only 2010 Committee: Michele Antonelli, Chair, and members Bonnie Anton, Peg Fitchwell-Hill, Denise Gipson, Julia Gleason, Virginia Goebel, Terry Jancisin, Marsha Kirley, Elizabeth McCarthy, Patti McKee, Joan Martin Siebart, Pert Pivirotto, Peggy Snavely, Julia Unitas Giba, and Jan Wannstedt.

38 comments:

Sharon Donovan said...

Words to live by. God works in mysterious ways. I feel truly blessed. And after living in fear of going blind for the first quarter century of my life, If I can offer hope and inspiration to one person facing vision loss, my mission in life will be complete...

Miss Mae said...

Absolutely wonderful night, Sharon, and it sounds as if your stage fright was easily overcome by your newfound strength.

Hat's off to you, gal! :)

Sending crushing cyber bear hugs! :)

MM

Sharon Donovan said...

Thanks, MM. Are you kidding? I was terrified! But with the coach at my side, I think and hope I made them proud. Whatever else happens in my life, June 11, 2010 will go down in my book as a night where hopes and dreams come true. Big hugs back atcha, girl!
Sharon

Margaret Tanner said...

Wonderful blog Sharon. You are an inspiration. Sounds like everything went off very well. I am so glad because you deserve it.

Best wishes

Margaret

Sharon Donovan said...

Thank you, Margaret. Your words inspire me and your well wishes make me smile.
Sharon

Lilly Gayle said...

Sharon,
You are truly an inspiration to all. Your heart and courage should be an example to anyone who's ever wanted something but said, "I can't."

God bless you and your family. And keep the faith. I can't imagine life without it. Can you?

Sharon Donovan said...

Lilly Gayle, what a wonderful way to look at it. Yes, it is all about faith and keeping the faith. Thank you so much for your heart-felt wishes.
Sharon

Lori, Sr. Editor for Wild Rose Press said...

Sharon, these accolades are well deserved. You have worked very hard to get where you are and I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to share a part of your journey. You have met everything asked of you with grace and determination. I am excited for the path ahead and the adventures yet to come for you. God Bless!!

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Beautiful testimony, Sharon. You inspire me.
PamT

Sharon Donovan said...

Thank you, Lori. Your words touch me and your editing skills bring my writing to life. Through modern technology, I have met so many wonderful connections here and abroad, and I thank God for that gift. One day, new doors will open and all eye diseases will be wiped off the face of the earth. I will continue to hope and pray for that day. Here's hoping!
Sharon.

Sharon Donovan said...

Thank you so much, Pam. As you well know, we depend on our faith in our darkest hour. Life goes on and we must make the most of it and make every day count.
Sharon

Debra St. John said...

Hi Sharon,

What a fabulous Cinderella night for you. As always, I am so amazed and humbled by your story. You are an amazing lady.

Sharon Donovan said...

Thank you, Debra. It was and I felt like bell of the ball. One thing funny did happen however. At the end of the evening, channel 4 news showed up and came up to me when I was chatting to the coach. They asked me one question and moved in on him to ask about the Big Ten. When it was shown on the 11 o'clock news that evening, they completely cut me out! LOL But the night was fabulous, all the same!
Sharon

M.Flagg said...

Hi Sharon. It sounds like a wonderful night. What an honor! You continue to inspire me with your ability to stay positive.

Thanks for sharing this tremendous experience. You are truly blessed!

Maeve said...

You are a true inspiration, Sharon. I'm so happy for you and I hope you continue to be blessed with more and more open doors to wondrous success.

Sharon Donovan said...

Thanks, Mickey. Your words continue to inspire me to walk through this journey to a better place.
Sharon

Sharon Donovan said...

Thank you, Maeve. Your kindness is heart-felt.
Sharon

Celia Yeary said...

SHARON-I stand in awe of what you have leanred to do since your blindness. Incrediable. A personal note--my daddy's oldest brother became blinded at age 18--this was around 1920--and his young wife--yes, at age 18--took away their baby son and moved to California. My uncle lived with his parents until about age 40, working on the farm as much as he could. Then the Lion's Club sent him to Pennsylvania to a school for a seeing-eye dog, to learn Braille, and how to run a newstand. He met a blind woman, they married, and lived HEA. I wrote a two page anecdotal story about him, titled: Uncle Brother Falls in Love--a magazine bought it.I used him as a model for a secondary character in a story. Because I knew my uncle when I was a little girl, I felt I could write about a blind person who used a cane to "feel" where he was walking. Thank you for sharing the newspaper article. Celia

Kara Lynn Russell said...

Sharon, what a fantastic story! Congratulations on this most recent success in your career and thank you for sharing it.

Sharon Donovan said...

Thank you for sharing your uncle's story, Celia. Another case of when one door closes...another dor opens. Just another twist to God's working in mysterious ways.
Sharon

Sharon Donovan said...

Thank you, Kara Lynn. I am always happy to share good news with the white roses in bloom. Cheers!
Sharon

Tiffany Green said...

Sharon, you are such an inspiration! I am blessed to know you, dear friend. Keep up the excellent writing and may God always shine His light on you.

Mary Ricksen said...

Sharon you know how I feel.
I couldn't be more proud of you and your sister AR&T girls are lucky to have your wit and tender heart to help us along.
Love you Sharon, and so does Junior.

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Tiffany, thank you for your kind and inspiring words. I am blessed to know you, too! I always say, without modern technology, I wouldn't have been able to make so many online friends that have become so near and dear to my heart.
Sharon

Sharon Donovan said...

Mary, you are such a dear friend to me and I swear, your heart gets bigger every day. Never change, Mary. Stay as sweet as you are. Love ya, girl!
Sharon

liana laverentz said...

Just goes to show you never know what can come from taking a few minutes out of your day to talk to a stranger. So glad it's all worked out for you, Sharon! God really does bring us what we need when we need it :)

EA said...

This was a truly inspirational post, Sharon. I am so glad to know you. Your words, your strength, your courage are an inspiration. Keep going where God opens those doors!

Sharon Donovan said...

Isn't it the truth, Liana. And that day you were an angel to a friend in need. Thank you!
Sharon

Sharon Donovan said...

EA, thank you. It's just such a pleasure to be in a better place and if I can help someone out of a deep depression, I will do so gladly. It's why we're here, after all. To help those in need.
Sharon

Marianne Evans said...

Sharon, I admire your talent, and am amazed by your perseverance and ability to remain positive when circumstance might have left you anything but. Thank you for an inspiring, beautiful post. :-) Blessings, and continued success!
Marianne

Denise said...

Thank you, Sharon, for sharing your wonderful experience with the loop. I'm ashamed to admit, as a writer, that words fail me. Bright Blessings!

rlkris said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sharon Donovan said...

Marianne, thank you so much. But it was a long and winding road getting to the point where I am. Depression and fear of the unknown is our worst fear. Finding peace with a new creative muse has given me a second chance at happiness...
Sharon

Sharon Donovan said...

Thank you for your support and heart-felt wishes, Denise. Sometimes words aren't necessary. Your heart shines through. Thank you!
Sharon

Wendy Davy said...

I'm so glad everything went well for you Sharon!

Wendy
www.wendydavy.com

Sharon Donovan said...

Thank you, Wendy! I was nervous but hope I pulled it off. What a night to remember!
Sharon

Laurean Brooks said...

Sharon,

Miss Mae mentioned stage fright. From reading this, you sound like a profesional speaker. Wow! What any author would give for a night like this!

Girlfriend, you are on your way to the ball! The handsome pince awaits, and I'd bet that well-deserved shoe fits perfectly.

Sharon Donovan said...

Laurie, my sweet gal pal. What can I say? I wish I could lie and say it was a breeze but a professional I am not! You remember the story of when I was a little girl and was so shy the nuns sent me to drama class. Well, the play was the Emperor Had No Clothes On and who do you think had to point and say those words? Yours truly. On my opening debut right in front of everyone, when it was my big line to say, "Look, the emperor has no clothes on." I passed out cold right on stage. That was the end of my acting career. LOL All right, so maybe I've come a long way, baby. But I was still shakin' in me boots! But thanks for the shout out, Laurie. I love ya, girlfriend for always being there for me since the beginning when we bloomed together as white roses in the garden.
Sharon