Ashland woman isn’t letting a degenerative eye disorder steal her spirit

ASHLAND, Ore. – An Ashland woman is slowly losing her sight, but that’s only making her goals more clear.

“It’s kind of like the idea of a Monet painting, that I can get the gist of what’s there but I can’t really fine-tune it,” Wendy Werthaiser said.

The world in Wendy Werthaiser eyes is a little bit fuzzy.

“The disease is taking my central vision, I can’t really make eye contact with anyone because it’s only my peripheral vision that’s left,” Wendy said.

She has a degenerative eye disorder called cone-rod dystrophy.

“I was crossing a busy highway and I almost got hit and its because I did not see the car, and it was close. So that was a big eye-opener, so to speak for me about how there were things I could no longer see,” she said.

It’s slowly stealing her sight, but it’s not stealing her spirit. But, one concern for Wendy, would she still be able to cycle?

“I started checking out, well okay there are plenty of athletes that are blind and do all sorts of things, so I discovered that there is a community of tandem cyclists, so the blind person is on the back and you have a sighted person on the front,” she said.

Wendy started to train and training led to competing, but taking the backseat has not been an easy ride

“Some people might say I’m a little bit of a control freak, and so just being able to relax and put 100% trust into whoever’s on the front of the bike is just how you have to do it.”

Wendy and her training partner, Jill now make up the Blind Girl Cycling Team here in the Rogue Valley. Jill says though they’ve been friends for years, she’s now seeing a whole new side of Wendy

“Her vision has not been something that has held her back,” Wendy’s training partner, Jill Williams said. “She finds a way to push through.”

Wendy has won medals in the past, but her dream is to compete in the Paralympics in Tokyo next year. Her disease is genetic so she’s been preparing for the day she fully loses her sight, as she once watched her mother go through the same thing. But as of now, she has no plans to hit the brakes.

“It’s not like you get to have this opportunity every day, and I’m not getting any younger,” Wendy said.

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