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

Chief Constable Norm Lipinski, Surrey Police Service. (Submitted photo)
Surrey chief constable says ‘comprehensive’ public engagement to be done this year

Norm Lipinski says Surrey Police Service has ‘good momentum’

Burnsview Secondary in a Google Streetview photo.
UPDATE: Knife recovered after schoolyard stabbing in North Delta

One teen now out of hospital, and other has been released to custody of family with conditions

The City of Surrey is seeking public input on its walking routes, including Semiahmoo Trail. (Tracy Holmes photo)
Surrey seeks input from seniors on city’s walking routes

Online survey is part of city’s Age Friendly Strategy

Surrey-raised forward Jujhar Khaira in action with Edmonton Oilers. (Photo: nhl.com)
Q&A: Surrey’s Jujhar Khaira credits parents for their hard work on his path to NHL

Port Kells-raised player talks about his journey to pro hockey with Edmonton Oilers

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

(File)
Man allegedly bites Vancouver cop during arrest for outstanding warrant

The officer was treated in hospital for the bite wounds

(File Photo)
Interior Health says COVID positivity rates in Fernie area actually 10-12%

IH say the rates are not as high as previously claimed by the region’s top doctor

Black bear cubs Athena and Jordan look on from their enclosure at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, B.C., on July 8, 2015. Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant won the hearts of animal lovers when he opted not to shoot the baby bears in July after their mother was destroyed for repeatedly raiding homes near Port Hardy, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Supreme Court quashes review of B.C. conservation officer who refused to euthanize bears

Bryce Casavant was dismissed from his job for choosing not to shoot the cubs in 2015

Francina Mettes and Thomas Schouten with the 200-page document they submitted in December of 2018. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Dutch man, 94, facing unwanted trip home can stay in B.C. with wife of 45 years

Immigration offices cuts red tape so couple of 45 years can stay together in Victoria area

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier, health officials to discuss next steps in COVID immunization plan

Nearly 31,000 doses of vaccine the province expected by Jan. 29 could be curtailed due to production issues

Vancouver Canucks’ Travis Hamonic grabs Montreal Canadiens’ Josh Anderson by the face during first period NHL action in Vancouver, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horvat scores winner as Canucks dump Habs 6-5 in shootout thriller

Vancouver and Montreal clash again Thursday night

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Most Read