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In October 2011, Debby Green ran her first 5K race. It was at Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest.
This past New Year’s Day, Green ran another 5K alongside her friend Arlene Brady.
“I think that, for most of my life being blind, I never thought it would be possible,” Green explained.
Holding a cord with a friend holding the other end, Green is able to participate in the runs. Brady and another friend, Kathy Francis, run with Green.
“If neither one of them is running, I’m not running,” Green said.
The licensed professional clinical counselor has pursued many interests throughout her life.
The 64-year-old has learned to play piano, guitar and other instruments, authored a book and recorded a CD.
“I’m a firm believer we should never stop growing,” she said.
At Calvary Assembly of God in Elizabethtown, Green maintains an office for her counseling work. She also assists with music by playing piano during services.
The keyboard, she says, is her main instrument, and she has been playing since she was a child and was able to see. She took lessons from a woman who played by ear when she was in college.
Green now plays by ear.
“You develop a hearing aptitude for it,” she said.
Eventually, Green’s brother, who has a recording studio in his home, recorded a CD of her playing Christian gospel music on a piano.
For a while she played flute, though she doesn’t own one now. She also learned to play guitar and took violin lessons in junior high school.
“I’ve dabbled with other things,” Green said.
During a routine eye exam when she was 8, Green was discovered to be blind in her left eye. She had contracted uveitis which led to glaucoma.
By the time she was in high school, the glasses she wore couldn’t correct her lost eyesight.
“I had to drop out of school for a semester to learn to read Braille,” she said. “That’s not hard; it’s just tedious.”
While attending college, she could see enough to get around without a cane so she tried to conceal her diminishing vision.
“When I was losing my sight in college, I hated being blind,” Green said.
Following graduation, an uncle of hers who had just retired from a Mennonite Publishing House — at the time she was Mennonite — suggested she write a book about her experiences being blind. At the time, she said, she was still losing her sight but was functioning as a blind person and was hesitant about writing a book.
Green sent a completed manuscript to her uncle just to get his opinion on it before submitting it to the publisher. She wrote about blindness, not her experiences.
Her uncle sent the manuscript back to her and told her not to bother submitting it. The book, he said, needed to be about her personal feelings and knowledge.
Green rewrote the book and it was accepted. The result was “Debby” by Deborah Zook, Green’s maiden name.
After taking a job at a vocational school in eastern Kentucky working with blind students, Green was offered a state job as a rehabilitation counselor with the Kentucky Department for the Blind.
“It was one job where being blind was an asset,” she said.
Green worked at her state job for about 27 years. She retired at age 50.
Now working as a licensed professional clinical counselor, Green sees clients, both church members and non-church members, who are experiencing issues including grief, depression and stress.
“I think people’s life issues come down to relationships,” she said, explaining the most important relationship is the one with God. “When we can get that right, things fall into place.”
Once a week, Green also participates in church ministry at a nursing home. She said she wants to be an encourager to nursing home residents and leaders.
Green tells people there’s a way to determine if you have a purpose in life.
“If you are breathing, you have a purpose,” she said.
Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or email@example.com.
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