A Love Without Limits: How John and Min Conquer Blindness Together
In honor of Valentine’s Day, the Foundation Fighting Blindness brings you a special edition of our Beacon Story series, which covers the unique journey of visually impaired couple John and Min.
Love is just one of the many things that have brought John and Min Naples closer together. The couple, who currently reside in Cleveland, were both diagnosed with blinding diseases at young ages, and their unique life paths led them to each other.
Born in Korea, Min was diagnosed with optical nerve damage and has been legally blind since birth. Seeking a better life and more opportunities, her family made the difficult decision to put Min up for adoption at the age of eight. She relocated to Mansfield, Ohio, where she spent most of her adolescence with her new family. Despite her condition, her vision is stable, and she has lived on her own since the age of 18.
“I’ve had a pretty normal life, though, I didn’t have a lot of opportunities to learn about different support groups,” says Min. “The teenage years are always hard when you are born with blindness or dealing with vision loss at the time. So, it’s nice to know there is a community of other individuals out there.”
She later landed a role at the Cleveland Sight Center, where she would meet John in 2015. After working several years together, the duo went on their official first date to the Cleveland Botanical Garden for the annual orchids show. They later wed in a small rooftop ceremony streamed on Facebook live in April 2020.
Although blindness was familiar to John due to his family’s history, his journey was unique. He was near-sighted throughout most of his life before he was formally diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at the age of 18 by the Cole Eye Institute. Over the years, he has progressively lost most of his vision and currently uses a white cane.
As John began to seek more knowledge about his diagnosis, he quickly became involved with the Foundation Fighting Blindness. In 2004, he attended his first VISIONS conference in Chicago and has since been an active member of the organization for the last 18 years. The support he received from the Foundation inspired him to work for a nonprofit organization, which led him to Min.
“You never know who you are influencing or where it’s going to go,” says John. “We had to take the steps and do all the actions. But if it wasn’t for the influence that the Foundation had in my young adult life, we may not have met.”
Since life has brought them together, John and Min have now had the opportunity to lean on each other for support. The challenges they once faced alone during their adolescence, they can now face together as one.
“There are definitely still stereotypes around blindness and capabilities, but when we’re together, it makes it easier than being separate,” says John.
“We encourage each other as opposed to just relying on other people,” says Min. “It just helps to have somebody in your corner that has similar experiences as you. It really helps you develop your independence as a person.”
Despite their unique circumstances, faith, communication, and adventure stand at the forefront of their love. The pair enjoy being active members of the Cleveland and Christian community, often supporting local events and exploring new restaurants the city has to offer.
“People might think we have more challenges in a relationship both being visually impaired, but I think we just have different challenges,” says Min. “Life does have challenges, but with every challenge, there are so many rewards. John and I’s relationship shows that because we do have many rewarding moments, memories, and experiences.”