Despite his low vision—the sky is his limit.
It’s another beautiful weekend in Central Texas for paramotoring enthusiast, Cody Smith. With the wind and the sun on his face he feels like he can do anything— and he can! Powered paramotoring is paragliding with a motor and a propeller which gives him enough thrust to take off on his own.
And it all comes down to this: Cody’s love for the sport embodies his own personal values for life: passion, opportunity, and adventure.
Cody explains that powered paragliding combines the easy flying characteristics of a paraglider with the autonomy and range of powered flight. Wearing his motor and propeller in a backpack he says all you have to do is “buckle up, start the engine, and run like the wind while gunning the throttle until your feet leave the ground and off you go!,” he shared, passionately. Just like his life.
And just like paragliding, his life has also had its ups and downs. Cody, who is an Operations manager for the Texas State Auditors by day, was born with a congenital eye condition called coloboma, where the eyes do not develop normally, which left him legally blind.
In order to navigate his life of very reduced vision, Cody went through grade school, middle school and high school using a strong magnifying glass to read and an 8x monocular telescope to see at a distance. Like most individuals with low vision, he struggled in school as well as in socializing— making friends and enjoying his life to its fullest were both a constant challenge.
Cody explained, “I attended the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired from sixth through tenth grade because my local school district did not have the resources to really help me . I returned to my regular school for my 11th and 12th grade years and I became an honors student in both art and physical science.”
Cody shares great memories of his late father, Gary Perrenot, who spent hours reading to him and helping him with his math assignments. His father was a an enormous help as he was a computer engineer for the US Navy in the 70s and later for the Texas Department of Transportation. For Cody, his father’s passing in 2012 was another tremendous, personal loss.
“When I reached high school, like most teenage boys, I dreamed of driving,” Cody recalled. “And so a big moment for me was figuring out how, with my reduced vision, I might find a way for me to drive.”
It was 1997, when Cody turned 18 that he went to see Dr. Kathleen Fraser-Freeman at the San Antonio Low Vision Clinic. It was at that visit that his life began an exciting new chapter. After special testing he was prescribed an eyeglass telescope called an Ocutech bioptic. Cody remembers his first pair from over 25 years ago. They were a little heavy and awkward, and he did get a lot of looks and stares— but he didn’t care! He could see!
“I could now see and do things I couldn’t ever do before. And, I was able to get my special driver’s license and that’s all that really mattered to me then,” he smiled. “The Ocutech bioptics have literally changed my life,” he said.
Since receiving his first pair in 1997, bioptic technology has continued to progress and he now uses a newer Ocutech design that’s lighter and more comfortable to wear. Cody wears his bioptics everywhere and since they are focusable he uses them for reading, working in the office, in meetings with colleagues, for driving and, yes, for paramotoring where he is navigating and seeing the beautiful sights from on high all on his own.
From driving to flying, Cody has proven that the sky is the limit.
While living with a disability can break the spirit of even the strongest of people, Cody has never stopped believing that he was meant to achieve great things. Cody has worked hard every day to be able to achieve his dreams— to fly and soar and glide— and, much to the point, he has flown as high as 6,283 feet so he can visibly see his own success!
“My bioptics have really helped me do everything I could have hoped for— especially with my love of paramotoring,” Cody shared. “Those that love the wind in their face and finding these new freedoms soon discover that flying their paramotor can become their passion.”
On the weekends you can find Cody hanging out at the Lone Star Paramotors in Gardenridge, TX. He has completed 96 flights in the last year alone; his incredible journey and his passion for adventure can teach us all a lot about smiling in the face of life’s challenges.
“Like many of us, I have had my fair share of struggles both in school and in life, but I always knew I could do better and progress and thrive,” he said, passionately. “[Bottom line is]… some of us are born with visual impairments and we simply cannot let that get to us.”
Ask your low vision specialist if an Ocutech bioptic might be right for you. For more information about Ocutech bioptics or for a referral to a low vision specialist visit www.ocutech.com. Complete the self-assessment form at /self-assessment-form/ to receive a reply from Ocutech’s experts about your special situation.
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