In Seeing Stars for the First Time, A Life Changed

By Brian Smith

How would you feel if you saw stars for the first time?

Yes, the very first time.

For Kelly, the feelings and emotions evoked by gazing up at something we all take for granted is still, six years later, hard to put into words.

Kelly, who is visually impaired, went on a Leading the Way expedition into the Grand Canyon. It happened like this, one night, away from the bright city lights of her hometown:

“The group I was with was looking at the stars and talking to each other about how beautiful they were and I was like, ‘Whatever. Stars – I’ve never seen them, so I’m going to have a bad attitude.’”

She looked up, anyways.

“But, I could see them. I could see a bunch of stars. The really bright ones I could see really well,” she said. “I didn’t know what to say or do for a couple seconds because they were so mind-blowingly beautiful. Hearing about stars and hearing about what people describe them to be is nothing compared to actually seeing them and just having a better understanding of the hugeness of everything. It was amazing.”

Kelly said she hasn’t been able to replicate the feeling in any other activity since.

“I don’t know if there are words. … A kind of humbleness and tininess, but at the same time, significance,” she said.

The trip as a whole changed her life, she said. Even though she has a degree in engineering, she now “has the best job ever” working with blind and visually impaired children in Denver.

She said she thinks daily of her No Barriers Youth trip and tries to replicate the experience through her work and in her daily life.

“Just wanting to see the dynamic our group had continue in kind of everything I do and wanting to support people in the way I was supported on that trip,” she said.

Listen to Kelly’s full story below:

The Leading the Way program is partially funded through donor generosity. To learn how you can help others have an experience like Kelly’s click the button below.

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