Who Your Gift Helps – Tim Lait

Learning to Walk Again
Tim Lait

Change Catalyst: Lessons in safe and independent travel from CNIB. Daily training for three weeks, followed by monthly sessions.

In 2007, Tim Lait of Edmonton, AB, realized he was in trouble. He had been diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) 20 years earlier, but he still had good vision at the time. In his 20s he earned an economics degree and worked his way up from teller to investment broker at a bank. But gradually his vision got worse, as it often does with RP, which starts with difficulty seeing at night, develops into tunnel vision, and can eventually turn into total blindness.

Tim began relying on friends and family members to get around. He hated the way he looked when he was walking on his own, always struggling and bumping into things. In 2007, with little vision left, he became depressed. He had been in denial about the lack of independence his vision loss would bring, and now he was paying a steep price. At his lowest point, he went out one night to get bread at a nearby convenience store. He got turned around and lost his way – in the middle of a -30°C blizzard.

Soon after, Tim started lessons with CNIB specialist Janice Gurlitz, who taught him to navigate the streets of downtown Edmonton. Like Tim, thousands of Canadians learn to walk with a white cane every year from CNIB. It’s a difficult journey, but it has a huge payoff. Today Tim goes where he wants, when he wants to, all on his own volition. “I walk with the freedom and confidence I had ten years ago,” he says. “Who I am is definitely reasserting itself.”

“It’s such a wonderful gift that the mobility lessons have given me. It’s been liberating beyond words.” – Tim Lait

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