BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) – The gloomy and cold weather did not stop White Cane Awareness Day in Beckley.
The event was hosted at Word Park to the support of dozens of locals.
One of those supporters is Cole Sweeney, the founder of the event, who is visually impaired.
He tells 59News he first imagined this event after a personal experience while crossing a street in Charleston.
“I almost got hit by a truck and it wasn’t my fault. I learned in real time that people do not necessarily know the laws regarding blindness and white canes,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney first reached out to Beckley Mayor Rob Rappold about hosting this event 4 years ago.
The event now serves as an education tool for the public. This includes learning from people’s personal experiences and what being visually impaired entails.
“It simulates different kinds of visual conditions, like glaucoma that kind of stuff, and it lets you experience that for yourself,” Sweeney said.
The event concluded with a proclamation speech from Mayor Rappold.
Sweeney ended it with saying White Cane Awareness Day goes beyond educating the public. The event also celebrates the independence of visually impaired individuals.
“Blindness is a spectrum so there are so many different avenues regarding blindness. I really wanted to showcase that and allow people to understand that my cane is a symbol of independence,” Sweeney said.