We are lucky enough to live in a world where we have real-life superheroes, and the Foreseeable Future Foundation has the opportunity to help those heroes along the way. Melissa Blume may not be saving people out of burning buildings or fighting crime, but she is setting her own type of precedent as a blind athlete turning her into our kind of hero.
Melissa was born blind and was adopted from Seoul South Korea. She was diagnosed with aniridia eye disease and cataracts. This orphanage in South Korea was an orphanage for children who were dealing with a disability. At 7 years old, she met her forever family and was adopted by her loving parents who are both legally blind as well.
“They found out that I had a visual impairment like them and they were like, ‘Let’s adopt Melissa because we know what it’s like growing up blind.’… I think I got a lot of my strength and my visible muscle strength from them and inspiration from them because they’ve always been working full-time and have raised me and my brother like regular kids… and I think that got me started in cooperating in sports and staying active and involved.”
Melissa received a scholarship for playing hockey, but that is just one sport that she participates in. Melissa has also started hockey and rock climbing, done gymnastics, tap dancing, ballet, jazz, acrobatics, gymnastics, and now Melissa is a competitive runner as well. Her being involved in sports has created some incredible opportunities, one of which being an international opportunity.
Melissa traveled to Ireland to participate in the Dublin half marathon. To prepare, Melissa figures out what kind of foods she needs to eat to ensure she has the right nutrition for the run. She also goes with a guide who helps her meet the trail for the first time so she can get comfortable with the terrain before she runs with her guide in the group race.
“It was a road race, and actually I thought it was going to be flat but there were some hills and that was a little interesting. But the weather was perfect, [I had] a sighted guide with me… because my depth perception isn’t the greatest. So something like holes or manholes or little bums and grooves, I may not see every little detail on the road, so Tricia definitely helped me.”
Her next adventure which will be happening next year is one of her favorite sports, ice hockey. She plays with a team that we are Foreseeable Future Foundation are very fond of, the New York Metro Blind Hockey league. Ice hockey is Melissa’s favorite because it’s so much fun, fast paced, with a lot of dynamics.
Melissa isn’t just setting an example that blindness can’t stop greatness, she is also being an example to little girls that hockey is a sport for them, too.
“There is actually a girl, a younger girl who is sighted, and she’s out there helping me with things and it’s nice to just see another girl out there.”
Melissa is also fully employed while being a superstar athlete. She works for a New York Live Securities in the broker services department. This was an opportunity she received because her parents were so involved in the blind community, her mother having worked for the commission for the blind. Starting off doing customer service just because a spot was open, she has been with the company now for 12 years.
The blind community is filled with incredible people, people like Melissa who go out in the world and own it. It’s people like Melissa who help us realize our potential, and for that, we are all grateful.