News 12: Islanders’ home opener marks special milestone for visually impaired fan
By: Emily Drooby, News 12 | October 14, 2023
For accessibility purposes, we have provided the transcript to the News 12 Long Island broadcast video as well as the audio file.
Tama, Newscaster: Tonight The Islanders kick off their 2023-24 season, taking on the Buffalo Sabres at UBS Arena. But the season opener isn’t the only special moment happening at UBS. News 12’s Emily Drooby has an exclusive story of one very special hockey fan.
Emily Drooby, Newscaster: That’s right, Tama. Stuart is a huge fan of the Islanders and hockey, but after losing his sight eight years ago, getting to a game seemed nearly impossible. But thanks to a Long Island program, he’s here tonight. Hockey has almost always been a part of Stuart Campbell’s life.
Stuart Campbell: I’ve been watching hockey since I was 10 years old.
Newscaster: Now he’s face to face with the ice and his dream.
Stuart: Guess I’m making a dream come true, seeing a hockey game!
Newscaster: Eight years ago, a genetic condition caused Stuart to lose his sight.
Stuart: That wasn’t easy at first, of course, but I feel I’ve adjusted pretty well to it.
Newscaster: Traveling from his home in Des Moines, Iowa, to the Helen Keller National Center in Port Washington. In the two months he’s been a part of this program, he’s learned skills like how to read braille and how to better navigate while using a cane, which brings us to this moment. A stadium can be a terrifying place with big crowds and fast-moving people. [crowd cheers] But he did it! A testament to his hard work and the training he’s been receiving.
Stuart: I have a lot more confidence in my cane travel and walking skills.
Man: He’s been doing so well over the past few months and he’s just made so much progress.
Newscaster: This visit happening right before White Cane Safety Day, recognized on October 15th, it celebrates the invention and use of canes by blind people all over the world.
Emily: Stuart has at least a few months left of his training, but he says he’s already noticed the huge impact it’s had on his daily life. He also tells me he’s hoping to get to a few more games while he’s still in New York. In Elmont, Emily Druby, News 12.
[End of transcript]
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.