About Lynn Fitzsimmons

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Lynn with her leader dog Micah

“Don’t let anyone or anything keep you down!”

During the first part of her life, Lynn Fitzsimmons appeared to be the victim of circumstance. She is one of three blind children born from a blind mother and an angry alcoholic father.

“Although my Mom was totally blind, she was loving with a special giving heart, dedicated and she supported her family. She was a strong Christian woman of character but allowed herself to be controlled by her husband”, shares Lynn.

Lynn was a withdrawn child who wanted to be invisible when the stress of her home life became unbearable.  Her father was physically, emotionally and verbally abusive and although her mother was loving, she was not able to protect them from the abusive circumstances that held them prisoner.

Lynn was close to her grandparents and often she would run away and stay with them.  But they were overly protective because of her blindness and Lynn longed to become self-sufficient.  Instead of believing Lynn was actually blind, and because of her depressed and withdrawn demeanor, people would label her as retarded and she was sent away to a special school for the mentally challenged.

The laws at the time did not allow her to attend a regular school with the “normal” children.  Luckily, Lynn was blessed with a teacher who regarded her as special and took Lynn under her wing.  This teacher fought on her behalf and successfully lobbied to have her sent to a special classroom for the visually impaired, the Sight Saving Class at Victoria Public School in Windsor, Ontario.

Lynn began to thrive and learning was fun.  She realized that she could read if the words were really big and black. Although Lynn struggled socially, her marks were exceptional and as a result of her hard work, she was allowed to attend a regular high school.  In actuality, she learned to memorize things easily and this helped her to excel in everything she tried.

“At that time there were many angels that came into my life to help”, shares Lynn.  This included a retired teacher who offered to tutor Lynn and an uncle who invited her to visit his family farm regularly.  On the farm she was allowed a new found freedom; she learned to fall down and get back up by herself and discovered she could do many things on her own.

“This experience had a huge, positive impact on me and the way that I felt about myself”, says Lynn.  As Lynn got older and with her new found confidence, she was able to fight against her father’s abuse when she was home.  If someone teased Lynn for being blind or offended her in some way, she stood up for herself and fought back.

“I developed a new strength within me. I began to have fun dating and accepting friendships”, says Lynn. Even though Lynn knew she was different, she enjoyed herself and loved being accepted as part of the group.

One of the happiest times in Lynn’s life was when she attended York University in Toronto and living on her own in student housing.  Before attending University, Lynn met her husband Phil. “Little did he know that he was getting a real blind date”, laughs Lynn.  She learned to deal with her blindness with humor and it worked.  Phil was at the University of Windsor, completing his Masters Degree in Mathematics and Computer Science. He was outgoing, funny and he loved to dance.  He was sensitive and he loved and accepted Lynn for who she was. Not knowing whether their children would inherit Lynn’s blindness, they agreed to have at least one child.

Their son Brian was born and he did indeed inherit the same blind gene as his mother and grandmother before him. Two children, Michael and Jennifer were adopted and their family was complete. “Angels had those babies for me. I never treated them any differently” shares Lynn. “With great enthusiasm, our family fell in love with Shondelle, our foster child”.

With gratitude and parental pride, Lynn participated in school activities. She founded a parents group of blind and specially challenged children where experiences could be shared and they could help and support each other.

Lynn joined an organization that lobbied against the separation of disabled children from the regular school classroom. Much was accomplished and children are now integrated to allow the disabled to be recognized as part of the community. Lynn became an advocate and spokesperson for the disabled and the public was interested in her personal story. Lynn joined Toastmasters, studied business and improved her communication and leadership skills.

A true hero, Lynn has inspired and helped so many people. She turned her disability into a simple challenge that is just part of her life. Her “challenge” became her inner strength and is an example of her courage and fortitude.  She is currently an international speaker and a workshop facilitator. “Without my blindness, I would not be the person I am today”, says Lynn.

Lynn is a woman of value and has learned to embrace the many challenges that have come her way. She loves her family and is proud of her independent and healthy children.

Lynn has skydived, parasailed, swam with the dolphins and firewalked. She is constantly learning, growing and sharing her positive energy with everyone she meets.  Lynn is the ultimate champion and survivor who is admired for her strength, courage and generous heart.

Recently, Lynn has added a new addition to her family, a beautiful royal standard poodle, which is her Leader Dog for the Blind. He is not only her guide-companion, which gives her total independence, but he has truly become a meaningful and special member of her family.

“Life is worth living, so, STEP OUT FOR SUCCESS and participate in your life to find your passion and what makes YOU happy”, shares Lynn.

“Have the courage to step out for success & always allow your passion & uniqueness to shine”.