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‘I’ve turned my disability into my ability’: Blind Paralympic swimmer follows St. Teresa’s lead

Disabled swimmer creates program to help the homeless.

McClain Hermes is a 15-year-old girl from Dacula, Georgia doing amazing things.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) – The teen is known for competitive swimming across the United States and Canada despite being blind in both eyes.

According to her blog Swim by Faith, Not by Sight, Hermes explains she is “a legally blind competitive swimmer” for the United States, Dynamo and the Georgia Blazers.

“I was always very near-sighted but in the fall of 2009, I developed severe vision problems. Beginning with detached retinas in both my eyes, my vision has continued to deteriorate despite several surgeries and I am now legally blind.

“My doctors say that I likely will be without any usable vision in the future. I am determined to not allow this diagnosis and ability to stop me from achieving my goals in swimming or life.”

She goes on to thank the several coaches who have helped her swim through her disability and shared how helpful a “tapper” is during her competitions.

The tapper is a golf ball retriever with a tennis ball attached to the end so when she is one or two strokes from reaching the wall, someone can tap her and she can stop before her face hits the side of the pool.

Sometimes she uses sprinklers to tell her when she is approaching the wall. The feel of the droplets warn her to slow.

The Paralympian founded Shoes for the Souls to provide thousands of pairs of shoes to the homeless (McClain Hermes/Swim by Faith, Not by Sight).

The Paralympian founded Shoes for the Souls to provide thousands of pairs of shoes to the homeless (McClain Hermes/Swim by Faith, Not by Sight).

The amazing teen is classified as an S12 vision class Paralympic swimmer and is number one in the nation. She is among the top 15 internationally and holds 14 American Records Short Course Yards and two long course records for a total of sixteen Paralympic records.

If you think that’s impressive, take a look at Shoes for the Souls, a nonprofit organization established by Hermes and her father.

The organization opened in 2009 and has since collected over 15,000 pairs of shoes for the homeless.

Each winter the Hermes’ donate their shoes to the Atlanta Mission, who then passes out the shoes to the needy.

Hermes told WSB-TV: “I’ve turned my disability into my ability. Bad things have happened to me, but you can’t let that hold you down if you have something that you love.”
In the wake of Mother Teresa’s ascension into sainthood, it is a time to be humble and reach out to the unfortunate.

The reason St. Teresa’s life was so blessed was because she followed Christ’s example, so the next time you see someone in need, ask God to give you the courage and the heart to help.



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