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Visual impairment not a roadblock for local teen’s achievements

ACHIEVING SUCCESS — Abigail Kinney has achieved myriad success in school despite having a visual impairment. After graduating as one of nine valedictorians at Edison High School, she is moving on to college to study journalism. -- Contributed

RICHMOND — For Abigail Kinney, there is no limit to attaining success.

Despite having a visual impairment, the 2022 Edison High School alumna celebrated achievements as one of nine valedictorians in her graduating class and hopes to establish a career in broadcast journalism.

She leaves for college on Aug. 19 and plans to attend Kent State University’s main campus for her studies.

“I really like talking to people, and I like writing, so I picked something that aligns with what I like to do,” she said.

Kinney, the daughter of Keith and Lori Kinney of Bloomingdale, was diagnosed with Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis, a congenital retinal disease that results in severe vision loss at an early age, as well as a genetic RDH 12 gene mutation. She was left with 10 percent of her overall sight and lacks peripheral vision.

“My parents noticed I wouldn’t look at them when I was 18 months old, and then I was taken to specialists and diagnosed at age 3,” she said.

But she has managed to overcome those challenges with the support of family, which includes two older brothers, David and Andrew, her family and her school. She worked with visually impaired personnel as well as orientation and mobility specialists through the Jefferson County Educational Service Center and began learning Braille in second grade and continuing throughout high school, plus she utilized equipment such as the Braille Note Touch computer which enabled her to type assignments in Braille but send printed assignments to her teachers. Aides also assisted in her classes.

“My parents really helped me, and I had the VI department in school. They advocated for me to get equipment and adapted assignments,” she continued, thanking them for all of their help.

Kinney amassed an impressive portfolio during her time at EHS, appearing in junior high and high school productions such as “Xanadu,” “The Sound of Music” and “The Wedding Singer;” earning superior and excellent ratings in vocals during Ohio Music Education Association Solo and Ensemble contests; gaining an associate of arts degree from Eastern Gateway Community College through the College Credit Plus Program; receiving academic letters; and obtaining a 4.0grade-point average.

In addition, she ran track for one year, lettered for four years in swimming and participated in Beta Club for four years as well as drama club, prom committee and the 2022 EHS Homecoming court.

Additionally, she earned various scholarships to continue her schooling. Among them were the Bergholz Community Foundation Scholarship, the Bob Alpino Scholarship, the Charles M. and Thelma M. Pugliese Charitable Foundation Scholarship, the Pay It Forward Scholarship, the Edison Student Council Scholarship and the Ray Lautzenheiser Vocal Scholarship.

The guidance of coaches and teammates literally aided her during sports competitions and enabled her to take part and even win some heats in swimming, according to Kinney.

“I was always in the first lane in track during the 100 and 200. My teammates and coaches stood on the infield and called to me during turns and guided me to the finish line,” she commented. “In swimming, I could see the lines in the pools, and people cheered when I reached the flip turns.”

She said is grateful for all of the support she has received and continues to strive for an equally bright future ahead.

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