Blind Hewitt man proves anything is possible as he lights up scoreboard playing bean bag baseball
HEWITT, Texas (KWTX) - Ron Sembera, 75, of Hewitt, may be blind but he’s proving that anything is possible at any age, and despite challenges, as he racks up the wins in friendly, but competitive weekly games of bean bag baseball at a local assisted living facility.
“I love just playing the game,” Ron said. “I hate losing, but I love winning.”
Ron is part of a group of residents who plays bean bag baseball every Wednesday afternoon at Stoney Brook of Hewitt, an assisted living and memory care center for seniors who want to live an active lifestyle.
Competitors toss bags to a board that looks like a field with the chance to get singles, doubles, triples, and homeruns.
Ron doesn’t miss the chance to play.
“It just gives me something to do,” Ron said. “To not be in my apartment all day long.”
The all-star bean bag player has plenty of fans to cheer him on.
Autumn Outlaw and Shawna Brewer, both marketers with Bluebonnet Health Services, come every week to help guide Ron to the perfect throw.
“They tell me to throw straight and sometimes I throw crooked and maybe miss the board or go right or left but a lot of times I hit it pretty good,” Ron smiled.
He’s got the stats to prove it.
“I keep up with it myself,” Ron laughed. “Last year I got myself 27 homeruns, 144 hits, 138 RBIs and had a .566 batting average.”
His success at the game follows a lifetime of achievements for the blind man.
Ron was born in Teague, partially blind, with a condition called aniridia, a serious and rare genetic eye disorder in which the iris is partly or fully gone.
When Ron was six years old, his parents moved him to Austin to attend the Texas School for the Blind, where he completed his high school education.
“One of the symptoms is that you have glaucoma, but I had pretty good partial vision for many years,” Ron said.
But his disability has always made things more difficult.
“If you’re trying to apply for a job, or something like that, you get doors slammed in your face,” Ron said.
Ron never let challenges get in the way of accomplishments.
After graduation, Ron said he realized college wasn’t the right route for him so, with the help of a counselor, he found something he would go on to pursue for the next 30 years.
Ron ran a snack bar and worked in the vending machine business where he sold sandwiches, cookies, and drinks.
In 1999, Ron moved back home to Central Texas and, in the years that followed, his vision began to fade.
“A doctor told me about 10 years ago that, eventually, I would lose my sight and about six years ago, I lost it all.”
Ron’s getting ready to mark five years as a resident of Stoney Brook.
Stoney Brook Administrator Melanie Craine said Ron was their first completely visually impaired resident.
While Craine says she wasn’t sure what to expect, Ron has never ceased to amaze her learning the layout of the center and participating in all kinds of activities.
“One thing I would say about Ron, for sure, is he does not let his visual impairment stop him from doing very many things,” Craine said.
Ron hopes his story inspires others to never give up and invites anyone to challenge him in a game of bean bag baseball because all it takes, he says, is a little effort.
“Anybody can do it, whether they’re blind or sighted,” Ron said. “They can try at least.”
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