For Bruce Stoddard, driving brings a sense of freedom. Two years after losing his sight in a car accident, Stoddard was back behind the wheel Oct. 9. …
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For Bruce Stoddard, driving brings a sense of freedom.
Two years after losing his sight in a car accident, Stoddard was
back behind the wheel Oct. 9.
But this time, it was a little different. With no sight, he was
forced to rely on verbal commands from instructors, telling him how
to maneuver around the parking lot.
For the third year in a row, students from the Colorado Center
for the Blind, including Stoddard, steered through courses under
the supervision of Master Drive in Centennial. The day started in
the classroom, learning basic driving techniques, and ended with
students sliding around wet pavement, testing their knowledge.
As Stoddard followed commands to turn and straighten the wheel,
instructor Jerry Parker said he did better than some of the
15-year-olds he’s taught. Only making a run for the grass once,
Stoddard indeed showed he was no stranger to operating a
“I didn’t feel uncomfortable, and if you saw the vehicle [after
my accident], you probably would have reason to believe I might,”
The Colorado Center for the Blind, based in Littleton, has
offered this kind of experiential learning to the visually impaired
for 20 years. From rock climbing to sky diving, no task is
considered out of reach for someone just because he or she is
Out of the dozen students taking a turn behind the wheel, about
half of them were familiar with the task. For others like Beth
Allred, it was a brand new experience.
“Let’s get in,” she yelled excitedly, while waiting her
Like many others in the group, Allred’s dad promised to take her
on a similar safe drive many times, but never followed through with
While Nehemiah Hall enjoyed his maiden drive, the experience
didn’t quite match his expectations.
“It takes a little more thought than what I was expecting,
concentrating on what you want to do with the wheel and how much
the car moves,” he said.
“Driving in this country is such a big part of culture. Now I
understand a little bit what that is like.”
It’s the idea of providing a new experience that keeps Master
Drive inviting students back each year.
“We really appreciate their enthusiasm and how they feel about
it. We have a ton of respect for them,” said Dawn Langord, general
sales manager with Master Drive. “It’s something we can give back
to the community.”
It’s also a way to give back to the employees of Master
“We have a lot of instructors that want to do this,” Langord
said. “People get really emotional when they hear about it, as they
imagine what it would be like to drive for the first time, and know
you may not do it again.”
Emotion could be seen in Luis Alerrera’s eyes, as he waited to
take another turn behind the wheel. A traveling salesman for years
before losing his sight, he became accustomed to the life of
travel, logging more than 70,000 miles each year.
“[Driving] is one of the things I miss the most,” he said,
“especially when you have to wait four hours for a cab at the
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