Hi everyone! This post was written by our boys — Kai who is 17 and legally blind and Cash who is 21 and typically sighted — about their recent travel to Canada to visit the set of the Apple TV+ original See! That’s right, they even got to meet Jason Momoa and watch a fight scene in a cave, as it was being filmed. (Season 1, Episode 6 – which aired this past weekend.) The post is wrapped up with comments from both dad and mom. Enjoy!
From Kai’s Perspective:
My brother Cash and I’s trip to Canada taught me so much and it was a great experience. We traveled to Vancouver to meet my mentor Joe Strechay, who is the blindness consultant on a new Apple+ TV show called See. Joe is an awesome guy who has helped me learn how to thrive with a visual impairment, so I was super excited about the trip.
Cash and I traveled by plane from Georgia, US to Vancouver, BC and arrived safely, which helped prepare me for independent plane travel later in the year when I went to the NFB EQ camp. We arrived in Vancouver, and about ten minutes after arriving at our hotel, we got stuck in a fire escape stairwell because my brother is a genius! We only wanted to go down one floor, and the elevator was slow, so we took the stairs. We quickly found that the stairs do not open into other floors since the doors are locked. We ended up calling the hotel and having them let us out, which became a joke between us and the staff.
We met my mentor Joe for dinner (he took us to a cool Ramen shop) and we got to hang out in person for the first time. The next morning, we were headed to set. We got to hang out and observe while filming was happening on set all day, which was awesome. We watched a fight scene being filmed in a cave, and we even got to walk into the cave set. We got to see Joe training some of the actors on how to navigate and appear blind; then, we were able to sit in on a meeting with the art director and I even gave some input from a person who is blind’s perspective.
The next day, we got to explore Vancouver and experience the area. We went to a goalball tournament, where I got to try the sport for the first time. It was awesome! Later my brother and I rented a tandem bike and explored the entire island.
Overall, it was super cool to finally meet Joe and get new experiences outside of the country. We met tons of awesome people — including Jason Momoa — ate great food, and had a blast. I want to thank my family, Joe, and Apple for making the trip possible and thank Joe for being such a great mentor.
From Cash’s Perspective:
Going to Canada with my brother, Kai, was really an incredible experience. This was our second Brother’s-only trip (our 1st was Erik Weihenmayer’s No Barriers Summit in NYC. ) This time we went all the way to Canada! I was obviously very excited, and I would say that all of my expectations were met ten-fold. Among my favorite parts of the trip were the times that Kai and I got to spend walking around and exploring Vancouver, BC. The people there were incredibly friendly and we really enjoyed walking along the bay and riding a tandem bike through the forest. I’d say it was probably the most blind-friendly city we have been to. Most of the people were very aware of Kai having a cane and were very respectful and gave him a bit of extra space on the sidewalk or in a restaurant. (Maybe this was just because my Mom wasn’t around, and I never worry about him.)
Getting to meet Kai’s mentor Joe and really see what it was like for a very successful, grown man who is blind to get around and have a normal everyday life was incredible. I truly believe Kai can do anything that I can do, sometimes better than I can, but it was really reassuring to see that it can also be a reality in his adult life. The worst part was probably the TSA. Seriously people. Train your staff on what a cane is. They gave my brother a walking cane and seemed to have no idea what it means to be blind, or how to assist him through security. It was really frustrating especially going through customs back into the USA.
I’d like to thank Joe and Apple TV+ for making our trip and visit to set possible.
From Dad’s Perspective:
It has been wild and incredibly hard to watch my youngest son lose his sight. As a family, we decided to let him lead the way and try to connect him with people who can mentor him and teach him things they wish they had known. Our son’s TVI, Sarah, encouraged Kai to talk with her friend, Joe Strechay on the phone. Joe and Kai developed a strong connection and talked on the phone a couple of times a month for more than a year. Kai could ask Joe questions about difficulties he’s facing and get Joe’s perspective — a successful, independent man who is blind — on how to overcome it. Joe has become a valuable friend and a funny source of information for us (check out his YouTube videos). When Kai was offered the opportunity to go and visit Joe on the set of a tv show he was consulting on, in Canada, my wife and I thought it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up! We gave the boys plane tickets for Christmas. We decided Kai could travel with his older brother and they could have a cool experience together. That is exactly what they did. We got phone calls about how cool the city is and what a truly inviting host Joe is. Joe treated them to several incredible meals, we still hear about the delicious Chinese Dim Sum joint they visited for breakfast. We also heard the frustrating parts of their travels as they dealt with TSA (#$&*@).
I have truly been fascinated and inspired by the kindness that Joe has shown us (& Kai) by taking time out of his day to talk with my son and then inviting him to the set, where he was able to watch See being filmed and meet Jason Momoa (Baba Voss, Declan Harp, & Aquaman). This is an experience we will all remember.
From Mom’s Perspective:
As I reflect back on this experience I am reminded about how far we’ve come. Kai was diagnosed at the age of 10 and our lives were shattered. Over the last 7 years, with the help of some amazing people, we have rebuilt and now we feel stronger than ever. Kai has the skills to travel independently at the age of 17, and I have the confidence to let him — that’s huge! We have an amazing support network filled with people who go over and above the call of duty. We’ve all grown so much (believe me, it’s not been easy) and, lately, we have had the fortunate ability to pay it forward through advocacy and mentoring. It takes a village and we are so grateful to be a part of this community.
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Thank you for reading and we love to read your comments. Please tell us about your mentor, your own international travel experiences and/or your thoughts about the new Apple TV+ show, See.