Nationally-recognized advocate for the visually impaired, Craig Schneider, named winner of the 2013 “No Limits” Mentoring Mission Award.

Recognized by Congress for his work on behalf of the visually impaired, Craig Schneider was recently named the “No Limits” Mentoring Mission Award winner for 2013, said Patrick Lennon, founder of the charitable outreach program designed to help disabled people achieve their career objectives through mentoring, training, technology, employer partnerships and special governmental programs.

“Craig embodies the relentless, never-give-up spirit of the ‘No Limits’ Mentoring Mission through his own charitable endeavors, including breathtaking advances in the development of computer adaptive technology systems for the visually impaired and people with all manner of disabilities,” said Lennon, who overcame his own physical challenges to become founding partner and CEO of ROI Media Direct, a preeminent radio and television direct response advertising agency.  “We’re also pleased to be presenting him with a $5,000 check for the charity of his choice.”

For Schneider, founder of Charities for the Blind and owner of Access Technology Solutions in Murrieta, California, being named the 2013 “No Limits” Mentoring Award is acknowledgement of his tireless efforts to level the playing field for the visually impaired and anybody with disabilities.  “It’s estimated that 70 percent of all visually-impaired people between 18 and 69 are unemployed, and this isn’t acceptable,” he said. “As a blind person myself, I understand the challenges these people face and am doing everything I can to give them the computer tools they need to succeed.”

Schneider, who set the water speed record for a blind person in 2002 driving his 19-foot tunnel hull drag boat at 101 mph, has triumphed in the face of a mountain of physical challenges in his own life.  At 29, after achieving success with his own building contracting business, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1983.  Unfortunately, it was just the beginning of what would become a series of medical nightmares.

“After surgery, I was treated with radiation therapy, which led to severe stomach pain and intestinal issues,” he said.  “For about eight years, I was hospitalized dozens of times for bleeding ulcers and unimaginable pain. The only relief came from the morphine cocktails the doctors prescribed for me for hospital use only.

“In 1991, I underwent surgery to repair the ulcers.  Unfortunately, the doctor discovered that I had severe radiation damage to my internal organs that prevented the completion of that surgery.  In an effort to remedy some of the hyper acidity conditions that I was experiencing, the doctor performed a selective double vagotomy, a treatment of the stomach.  This surgery successfully eliminated the pain, but left me vulnerable to other side effects.”

One of those side effects was blindness. “I woke up one morning with 90 percent of my vision gone. I went to the Jules Stein Eye Clinic and they diagnosed me with optic neuritis. Soon afterwards, I discovered that my home had high levels of radon gas seeping into the living quarters from a cracked slab, caused by the Northridge Earthquake in Southern California earlier that year.”

In 1999, Schneider lost all of his vision, which he compared to being “a baby learning to live all over again.”  It was a time of understandably deep depression for the entrepreneur when he discovered what he called his “inner-vision” – to help other blind individuals by developing adaptive computer technology.  “Helping others is what saved me from deep depression over my blindness.”

He went on to form a non-profit organization called Charities for the Blind (charitiesfortheblind.org), which offers advanced but easy-to-use computers and software for the visually impaired.  In 2004, Craig launched a “for profit” company helping people with disabilities through the Department of Rehabilitation and Wounded Warriors.  As a result of his activities, he has helped well over 1,000 children and adults and counting.

“We are trying to make lawmakers, employers and the public more aware of the needs of the blind community who desperately need computer technology assistance, and Laws that assist the disabled in obtaining employment.” says Schneider,” says Schneider, whose innovations help people with all forms of disabilities to achieve new levels of independence, complete their education and start new careers.

Having undergone a successful stem cell transplant in April for Multiple Myeloma, Schneider is making plans to establish a new land speed record for a visually impaired person.  “The bottom line is you can’t give up just because you have a so-called disability,” he said.  “I try to inspire others with physical challenges never to give up, and let them know that you can’t stop doing what you love just because you’re blind – or have some other sort of disability.”

Total Blindness Turns Into ‘Stroke’ of Good Luck for “No Limits” Award Nominee Randyce Wechter

Randyce Wechter

Randyce Wechter

San Diego, CA – Randyce Wechter, the latest nominee of the “No Limits” Mentoring Mission Award – a charitable outreach program dedicated to helping disabled people to achieve their career goals – embodies the true spirit of somebody who has steadfastly refused to give up.

After being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis at eight years old, her mother died suddenly.  She found herself learning to walk again at La Rabida Children’s Hospital, without a mom and having to wear a cumbersome brace.  To make matters worse, Randyce was warned by doctors that she could no longer play like a normal kid. Of course, she had other ideas.

“So my father moved me down to Florida from Chicago to live with relatives, because of the warmer weather,” she says.  “He set up pool time at a local Miami Beach hotel because we were told that swimming would be instrumental in getting stronger and active again.”  The regimen worked.  In fact, she ultimately became a standout student athlete in a number of high school sports, including volleyball, a sport she competed in at the prestigious Maccabiah Games in Israel.

At 21, Randyce married and went on to attend DePaul University.  After a successful career in retail management, she settled into her passion: the theater. She eventually became a Unit Production Manager for a leading women’s documentary film company.  She had planned to continue in the same field when the couple moved to California, but fate intervened with the “sunshine of her life” – a new baby boy named Matthew.

She relished being a stay-at-home mom, calling those years the best of her life.  She also became actively involved in philanthropic work, helping organize multiple fundraisers for the schools her son attended.

By the time Matthew was in seventh grade, she decided it was time to go back to work.  “My husband, Michael, noticed that a local Palm Springs bakery was up for sale.  It sounded like a lot of fun, even though I’d never baked a thing in my life.  Actually, my husband was the cook in the family,” she laughs.  “Luckily, I felt I had enough organizational expertise and support from my family to make this unlikely venture a success.”

Under her enthusiastic leadership and marketing skills, the business flourished.  “My husband, though very busy running his own computer business, helped out in any way that he could… and so did my son.  It was a blast!  You can imagine how popular my son was with a parent known as ‘PS Cookie Mama.’”

At 45, just as life couldn’t get much better, something unimaginable occurred.  “I started losing my vision.  I was diagnosed with ‘overlapping autoimmune disease,’ which is a fancy way of saying they didn’t know what was causing my optic nerve to begin dying in one eye.”

Her son, a high school senior at the time, took over the day-to-day operations of the bakery as Randyce sought multiple medical opinions.  “He did a great job keeping the business going, but as my sight continued to deteriorate over the months ahead, it was obvious I would have to sell my business.  It was a difficult decision after pouring so much work and love into my four bakeries, but since I was selling them to a former employee, who I also mentored in the business, it was an easier transition for me.”

The family relocated to Laguna Niguel in Orange County, California, so she could receive regular chemotherapy treatments over a grueling four-year stretch at UCI Medical Center, in a desperate effort to stave off any other serious illnesses.  “Unfortunately, I lost my vision completely over a couple of months and the treatments continued in hopes of keeping the disease from spreading to other vital organs.”

About the same time, Randyce started writing a book called “Blind Spot”, which chronicled her life and journey into blindness, hundreds of doctor’s appointments, countless chemo treatments, wonderful doctors and the amazing support she received from her family. “I was going to the  Braille Institute and trying to do my best to adjust to life as a sightless person, but it was very difficult to grasp that this was really happening to me….I felt I had too much left to do and I wanted  to survive the treatments. I felt like I would somehow see again.”

“No Limits” Mentoring Mission nominates Peter Dawson, who overcame shattering career disappointment to soar in new field helping others.

Peter DawsonSAN DIEGO – Peter Dawson, district administrator for the Blind Field Services Division of the California Department of Rehabilitation, has been nominated for the first annual “No Limits” Award, an honor spotlighting individuals who have succeeded in the face of physical disabilities.  The award is part of the “No Limits” Mentoring Mission, a charitable outreach program dedicated to helping disabled people of all ages achieve their dreams.

Unlike most teenagers waffling between potential professions, Dawson knew exactly what he wanted to do from an early age.  “My feet were firmly planted on the ground, but my head was definitely in the clouds,” said Dawson, a former high school athlete whose father was a renowned surgeon and mother a nurse.  “My dream was to become a Naval pilot, and I had already been accepted into the ROTC program at the University of Washington.”

However, those plans would inalterably change on a warm Sunday afternoon in 1977, just three weeks before graduating from Mercer Island High School in Washington state.  “I was having a blast with other classmates at our informal annual event, sort of a ‘rites of passage’ weekend filled with partying and off-road riding,” he said.  “As I was rounding a corner on my trials motorcycle, a guy on a motocross bike lost control and barreled into me at high speed.  The gas tank, speedometer and who knows what else just smashed me straight in the face.”

Unconscious and blinded, Dawson was rushed to the hospital where his face was literally wired together just to hold it in place.  “My life had changed in the blink of an eye.  One minute I was having the time of my life with my school buddies, and the next, wondering if I was going to die,” he said.  “I was only certain of one thing – my dream of becoming a pilot was out the window.”

After he was stabilized by a team of surgeons, it was determined that one eye was damaged beyond repair and would have to be removed.  A week later, Dawson was flown to the Bascom Palmer Institute at the University of Miami, where he met the world’s preeminent retina specialist at the time in hopes of saving his remaining eye.  Unfortunately, nothing could be done.  The graduating senior with such a bright future had permanently lost his vision.

“I had no idea what I was going to do… my life had been pulled out from under me,” Dawson said.  “Since I had already been accepted at the University of Washington, and my brothers were going there, I decided to go… but my heart certainly wasn’t in it.  I was passed around between my brothers and friends to help me get to my classes.  I did start listening to books on tape and even learned how to type.  One day, a representative from the Washington State Commission for the Blind encouraged me to get some training to better deal with my disability.  I wasn’t ready to hear anything about being disabled at that point, and basically showed him the door.”

By the following year, and after the first of over 30 reconstructive surgeries, Dawson felt more helpless than ever.  “I felt totally humiliated having to rely on others to get around campus.  And then one day, my brother took me to a large auditorium for a lecture and forgot to come and get me.  I desperately had to use the bathroom, and I was fumbling around… trying to find the bathroom and running into walls and furniture.  I was devastated.”

After that, Dawson hired an independent contractor to help him get around campus using a white cane, but he was still unwilling to enter a state-run training program for the blind.  “The full weight of my situation crashed down on me after the auditorium incident,” he recalled.  “I had been this popular jock in high school, and now I looked like hell, since I did not have artificial eyes at the time.  It was only my faith, family and friends that kept me inching forward.”

After a year of dealing with his blindness on his terms, Dawson finally relented and entered the state program for the blind.  “I felt like I had been placed into a mental institution or something.”  And, suicidal thoughts crept into his mind.  “The only successful blind people I had ever heard about were singers or musicians,” he reasoned.  “And, I had seen blind people on streets of Korea begging for coins, and people with disabilities selling pencils right here in the U.S.  Somehow, though, I got through this very dark point of my life and completed the program.”

Author Mark Carlson Nominated for “No Limits” Award — It’s the story of the “Blonde Leading the Blind.”

Mark Carlson, Success StoryThe “No Limits” Mentoring Mission, a charitable outreach program dedicated to helping disabled people achieve career goals, recently announced its latest “No Limits” Award Nomination — sought-after author and speaker, Mark Carlson.

For Carlson, 52, becoming legally blind didn’t happen overnight, but over the course of many years as Retinitis pigmentosa (RP), an inherited, degenerative eye disease that afflicted both his father and brother, finally left him jobless and facing an uncertain future in the fall of 1998.

As a successful graphic artist, he enjoyed a solid reputation for his extremely precise work and creativity; however, the continued loss of vision was becoming increasingly difficult to hide.

“My boss could overlook me walking into furniture and walls every now and then, but I couldn’t cover up the fact that I was simply making too many mistakes…and he reluctantly let me go,” said Carlson.

“I guess you could say I was up ‘denial river’ without a paddle,” he said half-jokingly.  “Since it was clear I could no longer work in my chosen career, I was literally forced to seek help from others for the first time in my life.”

A friend told Carlson about the California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) and its educational and vocational assistance programs for disabled Americans.  “With the help of a very caring counselor named Karen Gamble, I was able to attend the Davidson Program for Independence (DPI) in L.A. where I learned Braille, the latest assistive computer technologies, independent living techniques and even how to use a cane properly in a variety of environments,” said Carlson.

Even though Carlson was now up and running with the latest innovations for the visually impaired, he was still out of a job.  He was determined that would change.

“As luck would have it, a woman was demonstrating the latest closed-circuit television (CCTV) system for me one day, and I was so enthusiastic about how I could use the system to help not only myself but others that she offered me a job selling the devices,” said Carlson.

After his very first presentation at a small agency for the disabled called The Access Center of San Diego, Carlson was offered a full-time job as an assistive technology specialist.  “I guess they enjoyed my talk so much they offered me a job on the spot,” he said.  “My sales career was quickly over, but a bright, new chapter in my life had begun.”

For the next seven years, Carlson’s job was to help disabled people become more independent through various technologies.  He participated in countless outreach programs where his newly found public speaking skills were put to good use.  “It was one of the most satisfying jobs because I knew I was making a difference in people’s lives,” he said.

During the first few weeks on the job, Carlson was also granted time off to get a guide dog, which was fully paid for through Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, California.  “Otherwise, I could never have afforded the $50,000 price tag that would have come with such a highly trained dog,” Carlson added.

The dog’s name was Musket, a handsome yellow Labrador that became his “new eyes,” and the two have been inseparable ever since.  In fact, he’s even published a book about Musket, much of it from the dog’s perspective called, Confessions of a Guide Dog – The Blonde Leading the Blind.  The heart-warming and well-received book details how Musket changed and probably saved Carlson’s life on more than one occasion.  It also educates the reader about the challenges of being disabled in today’s world, how assistance dogs make such incredible differences and what programs and resources are available to help the visually impaired.

The pair has made countless presentations at schools and other organizations, where Musket is always the star attraction.  “He usually just sleeps through my presentations since he’s heard the same lines so many times,” Carlson laughed.  “But it has allowed me to help educate kids and adults that disabled people aren’t looking for pity, just respect and an opportunity to reach their goals just like anybody else.”

And speaking of respect, he says you don’t always get a lot of that as a blind person.

First Nominations for ‘No Limits’ Award Announced

San Diego, CA – The first of several nominations for the “No Limits” Award, sponsored by ROI Media Direct, a leading direct response advertising agency, were announced to celebrate businesspeople from all walks of life who have overcome physical adversity and achieved success.

The “No Limits” Award was created to inspire individuals suffering from cancer, blindness and other disabilities to never give up on their dreams, with the winner selected from nominations submitted to the “No Limits” Award Mission Website, NoLimitsMission.org, throughout the year.

At a special award ceremony (date TBA), the “No Limits” Award winner will be handed a check for $5,000 to be given to the Braille Institute, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, or the designated charity of his or her choice.

In addition, the winner’s charity or cause will receive $5,000 in free national media exposure via radio and/or television public service announcements.  A nationwide press release program will also be launched through PRWeb to tens of thousands of media outlets featuring the winner’s story and charity.

“We’re also looking at other tangible ways of supporting the charitable causes of our 2012 ‘No Limits’ Award Mission, such as free computers for the blind,” said Patrick Lennon, CEO and founding partner at ROI Media Direct, who conceived the program after enduring multiple life-threatening brain surgeries, two bouts with cancer, a heart aneurysm, a stem cell transplant and blindness.

According to Lennon, one of the key goals of the “No Limits” Award is to facilitate mentoring opportunities for business executives who would like to pass their experience and knowledge along to others facing extreme medical challenges, often for the first time.

“We’ve already met some amazing people with truly inspirational stories,” said Lennon, 44, who has helped build ROI Media Direct into one of the top radio and television direct response advertising agencies in the country.  “It’s been so gratifying having people contacting us – not because they want to be considered for the ‘No Limits’ Award – but because they simply want to help others.”

Lennon cites one such business executive, Craig Schneider, as a perfect example of a business professional who has dedicated his life to giving back.  Craig was an extremely driven, talented and very successful building contractor with his own company, only to be diagnosed with testicular cancer at age 29.

Unfortunately, the radiation therapy he received left him with radiation ulcers in his stomach and intestines and Craig suffered with this illness until 1991, when he obtained a selective vagotomy (a procedure that severs nerves providing acid for digestion). In 1994, Craig lost 90% of his vision while living in a home contaminated by radon gas.  By March of 1999, Craig had lost 100% of his vision. This immediately changed his world.

After struggling with denial and depression over his situation for a number of years, he discovered his calling was to help others and formed a non-profit organization called Charities for the Blind, which offers incredibly advanced, but easy-to-use computers and software for the visually impaired.  In 2004, Craig went on to start a for profit company helping people with disabilities through the Department of Rehabilitation and Wounded Warriors.  He’s helped over a thousand children and adults so far, and was recognized for his charitable work by Congress in 2008.

Lennon believes that Craig’s story will help many other people coping with vision loss, “Myself included,” he added.  “It took me a number of years to search out the right computer programs that would allow me to efficiently do my job.  I’ve already ordered Craig’s software and personalized training, which is exactly how we hope to put people together to help them solve a multitude of issues resulting from various medical conditions.”

Cancer-free for the last five years, the unimaginable crescendo in a long litany of medical ordeals for Lennon occurred at the MD Anderson Cancer Center where he underwent a stem cell transplant in 2007.  “They basically bring you to death’s door by ajaxing your system with chemo, and immediately place you on life-support,” he said.  He lost 55 pounds during the grueling three-month procedure that required removing his own bone marrow for transplanting later, “zeroing out” his white blood cell count and laying waste to his immune system.  While the stem cell transplant worked, it left him legally blind, but more determined than ever to achieve his career dreams.

San Diego-area TV sports anchor Humberto Gurmilan nominated for “No Limits” Award!

San Diego, CA – San Diego TV sports anchor Humberto Gurmilan was recently nominated for the 2012 “No Limits” Award, a charity-based mission created to celebrate businesspeople from all walks of life who have overcome physical adversity and achieved success.

For Beto, as he is called by family and friends, his story of conquering physical challenges began innocently enough on a beautiful September morning in Baja California, where he was doing what he loved most – surfing with his buddies.

“All I remember is diving off my board like I had done a thousands times before, but this time the water was too shallow,” said Gurmilan, who was 15 at the time.  “It’s still mostly a blur, but I remember hitting the bottom and being barely conscious as my friends pulled me out of the water.  I would have certainly drowned without their help.”

While he survived the 1994 accident, he suffered a life-altering spinal cord injury that left him permanently paralyzed from the waist down.

“It took me a few weeks to come to the sobering realization that my life would never be the same again,” said Gurmilan, an athletic kid who loved playing a variety of sports.  “It was then that I began to have some pretty dark thoughts, but my family and friends – along with my natural optimistic attitude – got me through those first difficult depressing weeks and months.”

Even during those first few months of rehabilitation and physical therapy, he wasted no time assessing his future and setting goals.  “Growing up in the San Diego area, I loved to watch Padres games on TV,” Gurmilan remembers.  “I would turn the volume down and start doing my own play-by-play announcing.  I dreamed of becoming a member of the press in some capacity – whether it was newspaper, radio or TV – it didn’t matter.  I just used my heart as a compass to achieve my goals.”

Gurmilan, who earned a degree in communications from San Diego State University and recently added a Masters Degree to his credentials, attained his dream by becoming a popular reporter for Telemundo Channel 33, where he anchors the sports report for both San Diego and Tijuana-area residents.

“Humberto exemplifies what the ‘No Limits’ Award is all about,” said Patrick Lennon, CEO of ROI Media Direct, a direct response radio and television advertising agency and sponsor of the “No Limits” Award Mission.  “His courage, positive attitude and willingness to ‘give back’ after such a life-altering accident would inspire anybody.”

Author of Desde mi Silla (“From my Chair” in English), a book detailing his recovery and life’s journey from a catastrophic accident to realizing his career goals, Humberto is actively involved in charitable work, and sits on the board of Access to Independence, a non-profit organization that provides services to people with disabilities. He also routinely speaks at high schools.  “My goal is to one day start my own foundation that assists children in Mexico who need wheelchairs, prosthetics, rehabilitation and therapy… not to mention a solid education and mentoring.”

“I’m certainly proud to be nominated for the ‘No Limits’ Award,” he said.  “There are so many people who just need a little help and encouragement, and to hear it from somebody who has been in their shoes,” he added.

Craig Schneider Becomes First “No Limits” Award Nominee!

We’re pleased to announce that Craig Schneider, founder of Charities for the Blind (charitiesfortheblind.org) and owner of Access Technology Solutions in Murrieta, California, is our first “No Limits” Award nominee of 2012.

In 2008, Congress recognized Craig’s charity for its wonderful work when Senator Barbara Boxer said, “Mr. President, today I ask my colleagues to join me in recognizing Charities for the Blind, a nonprofit organization in Southern California.  This organization continues to make a positive impact on the lives of individuals who are blind or visually impaired.”

Craig wasn’t always blind.  He was an extremely driven, talented and very successful building contractor with his own company, only to be diagnosed with testicular cancer at age 29.  Unfortunately, the radiation therapy he received left him with radiation ulcers in his stomach and intestines and Craig suffered with this illness until 1991, when he obtained a selective vagotomy (a procedure that severs nerves providing acid for digestion). In 1994, Craig lost 90% of his vision while living in a home contaminated by radon gas. By March of 1999, Craig had lost 100% of vision. This immediately changed his world.

After struggling with what he called “denial and depression” over his situation for a number of years, he discovered his “calling” was to help others and formed a non-profit organization called Charities for the Blind (charitiesfortheblind.org), which offers incredibly advanced, but easy-to-use computers and software for the visually impaired.  In 2004, Craig went on to start a “for profit” company helping people with disabilities through the Department of Rehabilitation and Wounded Warriors.  He’s helped over 1,000 children and adults so far, and was recognized for his charitable work by Congress in 2008.

Craig’s charity is dedicated to assisting blind and low vision individuals with computer adaptive technology systems, training and counseling.  “We want to make the public more aware of the needs of the blind community seeking computer technology assistance,” said Craig, who has helped hundreds of people to achieve new levels of independence, complete their education and start new careers!  “When you realize that 70 percent of people with visual impairments are unemployed, the need for computers they can actually use is extremely urgent,” he added.

 

The following is his story… in his own words.

In July 1983, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. After surgery, I was treated with radiation therapy to my lymph nodes in my abdomen.  During the radiation treatment, I experienced severe stomach pain and intestinal issues. For about eight years, I had to be hospitalized dozens of times for bleeding ulcers and unimaginable non-stop pain. The only relief came from the morphine cocktails the doctors prescribed for me. Unfortunately, they only worked in the hospital.

In 1991, I underwent surgery to repair the ulcers.  Unfortunately, the doctor discovered that I had severe radiation damage to my internal organs that prevented him from completing the surgery. In an effort to remedy some of the hyper acidity conditions that I was experiencing, the doctor performed a selective double vagotomy, a treatment of the stomach.  This surgery was a success in eliminating the pain, but left me vulnerable to other side effects.

In 1994, I woke up one morning with 90 percent of my vision gone. I went to the Jules Stein Eye Clinic, and the doctors diagnosed me with optic neuritis. Soon afterwards, I discovered that the home that I resided in had high levels of radon gas seeping into the living quarters from a cracked slab, caused by the Northridge Earthquake earlier in the year.

“No Limits” Award Announced

“No Limits” Award announced by ROI Media Direct to honor business execs who have overcome disabilities and succeeded.

San Diego, CA – ROI Media Direct, a leading direct response advertising agency, recently announced the First Annual “No Limits” Award, established to recognize professionals from all fields who have overcome significant health hurdles and disabilities to reach their career goals.

“The ‘No Limits’ Award is a vehicle to inspire others with health issues to stay positive and never give up on their career ambitions,” said Patrick Lennon, CEO and founding partner at ROI Media Direct, who refused to let a myriad of major medical issues — including blindness and two bouts with cancer — derail his dreams.  “Despite all of the medical setbacks in my life, I feel very blessed, and I’m looking forward to shining a light on the 2012 ‘No Limits’ Award honorees.”

Lennon, whose father was a former prizefighter turned successful real estate developer, received his first life-threatening body blow at six when he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  The doctors didn’t offer his parents much hope, but Lennon would beat those odds only to develop spinal meningitis, a harbinger of more medical challenges to come.

By the time he was 18, Lennon had broken 12 ribs, punctured his left lung, broken his pelvis, and broken his collarbone five times as a result of auto accidents.  Undeterred, Lennon, who also overcame alcoholism and dyslexia as a teenager, earned a degree in telecommunications from Pepperdine University, and elected to try real estate sales right out of college.

“I was driving to an appointment one morning when a truck lost some cargo, causing another driver to swerve violently into my lane at high speed,” Lennon said.  “My head hit the steering wheel, but I thought I had dodged a bullet even though my car was totaled. I was wrong.  My vision began getting fuzzy, so I went to a neurologist and was diagnosed with an extremely dangerous condition known as hydrocephalus or ‘water on the brain.’”

Lennon was rushed into surgery where doctors implanted a shunt to drain excess fluid and relieve the pressure on his brain and optic nerve.  When he awoke, he found himself totally blind.  While he eventually regained about seventy percent of his vision, the shunt would malfunction, requiring additional brain surgeries. Several more shunt failures were to follow, with each procedure costing Lennon more and more vision.  “One time it failed after a sky diving outing; another time on vacation in Italy of all places, where I had to have more brain surgery,” he said.

Despite the scary setbacks, Lennon doggedly continued pursuing his ultimate dream of establishing his own advertising agency specializing in radio and television media buying.  He started his company out of his apartment, and later scraped together enough money for a one-room office in San Diego, hired a part-time media buyer (who is still with the company) and, while being legally blind, began making cold calls and gradually growing his agency.  One of those calls was to Dr. Greg Cynaumon, Ph.D., a highly successful marketing professional, author and radio and television scriptwriter.

“We met for coffee, hit it off and began discussing ways we could team up to take my small boutique agency to the next level,” Lennon said.  “Greg introduced me to Zeus Peleuses, a long-time radio industry sales executive, and the three of us agreed to a partnership.”

While the business flourished under the new partnership, Lennon’s health took another ominous turn about eight years ago.  A routine CT scan revealed a heart aneurysm that could have killed him instantly. In addition, the scans revealed a large mass in his chest, which was later biopsied and diagnosed as a rapidly spreading form of late stages Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Again, his chances of survival were poor.  The doctors aggressively treated the cancer first, before turning their attention to the aneurysm.  “Here I was married, with a newborn child, the agency on a roll, and now this?” Lennon recalled. “The only word that came to me was ‘Really?’”

Despite nine months of treatment, which included six weeks of chemotherapy and three months of radiation therapy, Lennon rarely missed a day of work. When the treatments concluded, he was bald and virtually sightless, but he was cancer free, or so he thought.  “My wife and I went to Hawaii to celebrate the good news.  We had a wonderful time, but on the flight home I felt a nodule on the side of my neck.  My worst nightmare was soon confirmed – the cancer had returned after just 30 days.”