Deanna “Coach” Callender is an inspiration. She is a resident of Minneapolis who has lived a good life despite some recent health issues, just like she did before she went blind.
Callender went to Coon Rapids Elementary School where, she says, “no one looked like me.” She then came to Minneapolis and attended Ramsey Junior High and Washburn High School. She is a graduate of Minneapolis Community College and St. Cloud State. She has also previously written for the Minnesota spokesperson (MSR).
Teaching was his passion. âI retired from school education. I was a girls’ and boys’ basketball teacher and coach and girls’ volleyball coach at Lake Country Montessori School. Callender said MSR that she fails to teach.
“It was the joy of my life teaching and being around children.” She began her career teaching high school physical education, English and health at Holy Angels. [High School]. âWhen my son went to school, I taught physical education, health and kindergarten at Kings Christian Academy and Risen Christ. [School]. “
Callender has a son, Shir’Don, who is an appraiser at MA Mortenson Company. âHe’s my pride and my joy, of course. “
Speaking of some of her firsts, she told MSR, âI am the first African American woman to graduate from the Minnesota Military Academy, class of 1987. I also served in the military, in the National Guard. from 1982 to 1984. [I] served in the army on active duty from 1984 to 1991, reservist from 1994 to 1998.
“I was [the first] Greek African-American woman, Delta Sigma Theta, on the Saint-Cloud campus [State University]. I turned off when I went down south because they were still separate. My heart was broken. “
Callender began to lose his sight nine years ago. She has been blind in one eye for three years and almost completely blind in the other eye for about three months. “So it’s still a little new to me.”
She was initially diagnosed with glaucoma. However, by the time they discovered him, his peripheral vision was already gone. âIt got progressively worse. I couldn’t take [eye]drops and there was nothing they could do. A few months ago I woke up [to experiencing] a little light passes. I still have a little light, but I can’t see anything.
After losing my eyesight, Callendar said, âI was probably a little distraught for about a month. Then I thought, ‘Well, there it is. This is what it is, and I [have] to get up and start moving. She is currently waiting for a call for a guide dog.
Callender is a member of St. Peter AME Church, Chaplain of the Minnesota Blind Veterans Association, Challenged Athlete Foundation Ambassador for Minnesota, and a member of the Youth Association of Blind Athletes.
âI travel a lot,â she said. âI am passionate about sports, even though I have lost my eyesight. I still do everything. My favorite activities are whitewater kayaking – I love doing this – and skiing, tandem biking, scuba diving and goal ball. [blind soccer] at the Winter Sports Clinic for Disabled Veterans. I have been going there for five years.
Callender also enjoys fishing, baseball, rock climbing and bowling. âI do everything,â she said. “I made two whitewater kayaks [trips] which lasted a week at a time, one in Yellowstone River, MT and one in Sandwater River, Utah.
She is employed part-time at the Hennepin County Medical Center. âI work as a casting patient for firefighters, paramedics and first responders, while they do their training and certification. [A moulage applies mock injuries for Emergency Response Teams and other medical personnel.] It’s not every day, but a kind of on-call service. Sometimes I will work every day from nine to noon, and sometimes I will only work once a month.
The biggest thing in her life right now, she said, is sports. âThe Challenged Athlete Foundation allows me to do a lot of things. They pay a lot for my trips. They send me on a lot of trips as an ambassador. It really is a wonderful life.
Despite all the life changes she’s going through, Callender plans to continue living on her own and doing various activities – “forever,” she said emphatically. âBeing blind is okay. [It] only makes you want to do more things.
Brandi D. Phillips welcomes responses from readers at [email protected]