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

Just Posted

There has been COVID-19 exposures at two elementary schools in District 42. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 24 additional COVID-19 cases

This includes three school exposures in Kelowna

Calvin Domin is running to raise awareness and funds for teen mental health resources. (Photo Contributed)
Locals run to fundraise for youth mental health

Proceeds go the the EKFH’s Not Alone campaign raising money to support the opening of the Foundary

Incumbent MLA Tom Shypitka is contesting Kootenay East for the BC Liberals. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Wilkinson would have been a great premier: Shypitka

Re-elected Kootenay East MLA responds to resignation of party leader

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

Tom Shypitka, pictured with his campaign team. on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. Trevor Crawley photo
Updated: Shypitka wins second term; BC NDP cruise to majority

“Election Days,” rather than “Election Day,” may be the more accurate term… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada/USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
U.S. election results one factor that could impact immigration to Canada next year

The survey polled 1,523 Canadians between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25

Most Read