Irene sits in the stands of a Diamondbacks game smiling holding a baseball and miniature bat

Meet Irene, one of our program participants. Irene was diagnosed with retinoblastoma at six months old, which resulted in the removal of her left eye and replacement with a prosthetic. Despite her visual impairment, Irene is a bubbly, determined teen who loves sports and her two dogs.

Irene found the Foundation for Blind Children through Arizona’s Vocational Rehabilitation services and enrolled in the Teen-to-Work program. The six-week residential program, hosted at Arizona State University, prepares high school students to land their first job. Irene was paired with FBC Teacher of the Visually Impaired, Savannah Fabsitz, and she felt welcome from her first day in the kiddo-filled classroom. Irene contributed by assisting with snack time, recess, and activity centers. Savannah says, “Irene’s confidence grew as she found her footing. She came in with questions to better understand the students and always asked what she could do to help.”

In addition to her classroom work, Irene also provided support to FBC’s Development department by writing blog posts, photographing activities, and drafting social media posts. Chloe Ranshaw praises Irene by saying,, “Irene took on every task with a positive attitude and will go on to do great things in any field.”

The Teen-to-Work program participants not only receive internship opportunities and educational sessions but also enjoy leisure activities with their peers. The group visited iFLY, an indoor skydiving center in Scottsdale, attended sporting events, theme parks and much more. Irene, a

passionate sports fan, relished attending professional baseball and basketball games for the first time. “I don’t know anyone who is visually impaired. So, it was nice to spend time with people with similar or different visual

impairments. It showed me that it [a visual impairment] doesn’t stop you from doing anything,”

Thanks to your support, young adults like Irene are discovering new opportunities and developing the confidence to pursue their dreams. We are immensely grateful to Saguaros Children’s Charities for their generous donation, which has made an enormous impact on the lives of visually impaired or blind young adults.