Islanders' home opener marks special milestone for visually impaired fan

A genetic condition caused Stuart Campbell to lose his sight eight years ago.

Emily Drooby

Oct 15, 2023, 3:05 AM

Updated 242 days ago


The Islanders' 2023-24 season home opener at the UBS Arena Saturday night was a special moment for one ice hockey fan with visual impairment.
Ice hockey has almost always been a big part of Stuart Campbell's life.
"I've been watching hockey since I was 10 years old,” he said.
Attending an NHL game was a moment he was not sure would ever come. Eight years ago, a genetic condition caused Campbell to lose his sight.
“It wasn't easy at first of course, but I feel like I'm making the most of it," he said.
Part of making the most of it included traveling from his home in Des Moines, Iowa, to the Helen Keller National Center (HKNC) in Port Washington. The team that has been working with him says he struggled with a “straight cane” that was awkward and ill-sized.
He enrolled in the life-skills program at HKNC to learn how to properly use the cane and to learn other skills for his new life without sight.
Just two months into the program, Campbell said he has learned how to read braille and how to better navigate with a cane among many other skills.
Campbell put those new-found talents to use by attending the Islanders' season opener. Stuart made his way through large crowds of fast-moving fans to attend the game.
His team at HKNC said his newfound spatial awareness has made him comfortable trying new things.
"I have a lot more confidence in my cane travel and my walking skills. Before, I walked very slowly. I feel I walk with some pace now. Hopefully, it’s life-changing,” Campbell said.
Joshua Charles, of the Helen Keller National Center, attended the game with Campbell and said he is proud of his progress.
"He has been doing so well over the past few months. He has just made so much progress over a little amount of time. I just love to see that,” Charles said.
Campbell’s visit to the UBS Arena happened just one day before White Cane Safety Day. Recognized on Oct. 15, the day celebrates the invention and use of canes all around the world by people who are blind.

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