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

FILE - Nathan Cullen speaks to media in Smithers, B.C., Friday, February 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
More calls come in for Cullen’s removal as NDP candidate

Gitxsan Hereditary Chiefs demand Cullen’s removal. Ellis says, There’s no place in B.C. for racism

BC Liberal Party candidate for the North Coast Roy Jones Jr. will hold virtual face-to-face meetings for North Coast communities on Oct. 18. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
BC Liberal Candidate Roy Jones Jr, will meet constituents virtually

Face to face conversations will be held on Oct. 18 for North Coast communities

Kelly Lynn Whitney has been acclaimed as the successful candidate on Oct. 16, in the Village of Port Clements by Election. Seen in photos Kelly Whitney-Gould is pictured putting finishing touches on “Ms. Gnomer’s Home 4 Wayward Folk.” (Kelly Whitney-Gould/Submitted photo)
Kelly Lynn Whitney acclaimed in By Election

Village of Port Clements By Election success

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals.
‘Where is Annita McPhee?’: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

Four Stikine candidates spar during online debate from Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry answers questions during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. sees record-breaking daily COVID infections with 499 new cases over weekend

Two people, both in the Lower Mainland, died due to the virus over the weekend

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

The BC Ferries vessel the Queen of Oak Bay. (News Bulletin file photo)
‘Buy a boat,’ Horgan advises anti-maskers on BC Ferries

NDP leader John Horgan talks COVID-19 misinformation

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Most Read