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Celebrating White Cane Day

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TYLER (KYTX) -

(KYTX) - Tuesday was Tyler's fifth annual White Cane Day celebration, marked by more than 100 people--many of whom have visual impairments--marching along downtown streets.

We caught the parade as it came around the west side of the square. But it was the woman at the very back who stood out. Geneva Whitemon said she was back there because you save the best for last.

"It is a challenge," Whitemon said of learning how to use the white cane commonly associated with the blind. "It is very interesting because at first you have to get over the embarrassment."

Most of us never think about the leap of faith it takes to trust every step to whatever you can feel through a piece of plastic.

"The fact that there's just a little piece of thin stick to help guide you from a whole big world [is tough]," she said.

The larger group was there to send a message.

"People are afraid of what they don't understand so this is a great way for us to get out and educate the public," Jarrett Gist said. Gist is an orientation and mobility specialist with the Lighthouse organization, which organized the event.

Every day, Gist watches people who overcome challenges and do amazing work via jobs provided by the Lighthouse organization, like making parachute lines for the military.

"Just because you have a disability doesn't meant that you can't get out there and do all the things other people do," Gist said. "I think too often people get out there and take everything at face value."

Back at the back of the line, Whitemon saw clearly that her glass is at least half full.

"I have some sight," she said. "There are a lot of people who are totally blind."

White Cane Day dates back to 1964, which then-President Lyndon B. Johnson called for the first observance of it.

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