The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

July 16, 2014

She has a special list

Angela Geis has remarkable vision for someone with a visual impairment

In her nearly 47 years of life, former Geneva resident Angela Crawford Geis has achieved success in 3 special areas of her life.

The daughter of Geneva residents Bill and Marilyn Crawford and now the wife of David Geis, has taken talents and determination which she began to cultivate in her early years in Ashtabula County and turned them into both a hobby and business with levels of success in all 3 areas that many of us fail to reach even once in life.

Angela graduated from Ashtabula’s Christian Life Academy, housed at what is now the Gateway Church on Austinburg Road, where she was an integral part of a girl’s basketball team coached by her dad, who has spent time at a number of different schools in a number of different coaching roles. His love of the game spilled over into his oldest daughter, Angela.

She was a deadly shooter from 12 to 17 feet from the basket on CLA teams that played in Association of Christian Schools International levels.  She received all-state honors in 3 consecutive years.

Always interested in psychology, Angela moved from CLA to Northeastern Illinois University, receiving a BA in psychology and social Work.

After earning a college degree, she married David Geis and the couple took up residence in Chicago.

“Marrying David has been a wonderful blessing to me,” Angela said. “We have so much in common and we love and support each other. I just love living in Chicago now. Geneva always seemed too small for me and I had problems finding things to do. It was quiet, for sure, but I’m always trying to be as active as I can, and I don’t think you can beat Chicago for things to do.

“The mass transit system is amazing. I can go anywhere I want to, when I want to, without having to drive and you never run out of ideas on things to do.”

Angela has successfully parlayed her college interests into a fascination with photography, specializing in black-and-white images. She has her own business now, and her work can be seen online at www.visionsinthedark.net.

Her work has also been in art shows in Chicago and Los Angeles. She has also been featured on Chicago television and that interview can be seen at www.abc7chicago.com/disabilityissues.

She recently became a nationally ranked athlete in the sport of judo. At the recent 2014 National Championships, she battled the top ranked athlete in her class to the final buzzer to take a silver medal and earned a place on the United States Paralympic team.

All of these feats have one thing in common for Geis.

She has been visually impaired since birth. It’s something that may have stopped many, but she only presses ahead while fulfilling what God has given her to work with.

“I’m almost totally blind now,” she said. “I’ve had some problems over the years, and now it’s gotten to the point I am totally blind in my right eye and can barely see images and shadows in the left. There’s just so much great stuff in life, though, and Dave helps me enjoy it all to the maximum levels I can.”

Despite the disability, Geis excels at her craft.

“I’ve always felt that black and white photography has more depth, history, and emotion,” she commented. “I really don’t see much at first, but once I get my pictures loaded into my computer, I can see details that I normally can’t.”

In checking out what she has done, the entire process involved comes to light.

Geis’ involvement with judo is not something you would expect someone with a visual disability might take up.

Competing in the 70-Kilogram class, she felt she needed to devote more time to physical conditioning.

“I’ve always been a good-sized girl,” she said. “It’s time to take care of myself more and I thought this might be a fun way to do it. I’ve dropped some weight and I feel so much better now, too. Again, David supports everything I do, and it’s been great.”

There are 3 classes for judo competitions.

B1 involves no light perception in either eye upto moment of light perception but unable to recognize shapes.

B2 allows shapes to visual acuity of 20/600 with 5-degree sight in best eye corrected.

B3 provides vision above 20/600 to 20/200 correction with less than 20-degree acuity but more than 5-degree acuity.

It all sounds so complicated, and basically, it is. Achieving such successes with a visual impairment, as Angela Geis has done, provides an example for all of us.

 It takes focus and determination to be a success, but the rewards are enormous.

Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.

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