Asheville man born blind empowers others to see endless possibilities
Our Person of the Week, E.J. Ford, opens eyes to a world a possibilities. Ford was born blind, but there is so much he helps people see.
"I can see light and shadow. That's about really it, but I do pretty much just as much as anybody with sight," he said.
Even so, his work ethic and charisma empowers folks with and without disabilities to break through personal barriers.
"Set your goals in life, don't let anyone ever tell you you can't," he stressed.
Last month, the sewing machine operator at IFB Solutions in Asheville was named National Industries for the Blind Employee of the Year. He has had his eyes on that prize for years.
"Just something that I've been promising my parents for years, that I would make them proud," Ford said. "They've both passed on now."
Even after they have passed on, his mom and dad still inspire him.
"Even if that meant me working myself to death, I was going to fulfill it, no matter what," Ford said.
They raised him to overcome anything in the way of his dreams. Life is often what you make of it, and every day Ford is motivated to make that point.
"You know, I push myself to be the best that I can be every day," he said.
He has held just about every job at the local plant, which manufacturers military products. "We make a little bit of everything," he said, giving us a tour. "From pans, to different types of silverware."
Beyond blindness, he was born to inspire. He has a YouTube channel called EveryThing Blind, posting videos that explain what it is like to live without the gift of sight.
He has over 13,000 subscribers, and his videos have been watched tens of thousands of times.
Whether you see him at the driving range hitting golf balls or rolling strikes at the bowling alley, E.J. uses the visual medium to uplift the vision impaired.
"I just want to show them you don't have to be sighted to make perfect videos," he said. "Don't ever have that mindset that you can't do anything."
He often hears from people who do not think they have the resolve that he does.
"'I can't do this,'" he said. "I have to tell them, 'Yes, you can.'"
His biggest admirer works just yards away. He has been married to Betty for nearly 10 years.
"When he believes in something, he puts his all into it," she said. "He brings me up even when I'm not."
E.J. brings a lot of people up and his example gives hope to folks blinded by fear.
"You don't let other people dictate how you should do or how you should be," he said, still driven to please his parents.
"Keep working hard and keep making them proud," he said.