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Shannon was told by the ophthalmologist that he had Retinitis Pigmentosa and that his sight would deteriorate. He was told to stop driving his car immediately and his employment came to an abrupt halt. He was devastated and turned to alcohol and substances. He says: “I was in a very dark place, with very dark thoughts. It was three years later that my fiancé told me that was enough self pity. I googled AFL Blind, as I had played AFL from the age of nine to 30.”
He attended a 'Come and try' AFL Blind event and his life received an immediate injection of positivity. “The coach challenged me on the first day to stop smoking and to lose weight. I threw my packet of cigarettes into the bin and have not smoked since. I lost 20 kilos and started to exercise. AFL Blind and Mikey saved my life".
Shannon says: "I keep pinching myself. I look back from where I came from and it brings a tear to my eye. Tears of joy. I met so many fabulous people at AFL Blind, people who had far less sight than me, who were kicking lifetime goals.”
Shannon started working as a Community Engagement Program Officer in April at St Kilda Football Club and delivers a character strengths program called ‘Play to your Strengths’. Shannon said he jumps out of bed to do his work with AFL. “I have a purpose, I am needed. My life has never been as good as it is now. I love life, I love being blind.”
Shannon likes being independent, and has learned the importance of having good people in his life, supportive people who can help him when needed. Shannon lives by the belief: 'I always try to turn what I see as a negative into a positive'. He also says he enjoys taking himself outside his comfort zone; and loves a challenge.
Shannon is very happy to be an Ambassador of Blind Sports. To him, “inclusivity is everything, giving people a go, an opportunity to enjoy life is so important, encouraging people to enjoy being part of their community. I believe that sport and community go hand in hand and that everyone is entitled to be able to enjoy sport and recreation.”