Faith’s Path

Picture of Marcus next to Marcus award plaque.

How I ended up back in St. Louis permanently was a fluke. Or fate.

I’ll save the long-winded story for another blog post, but a new life started to take shape for me less than two weeks after my return from Florida at the end of May.

Beyond that, my intuition told me that despite never thinking I’d move back to my hometown as an adult, this was exactly where I was supposed to be.

Opportunity brought me back home. Not just for my career, but also for the newfound chance to learn more about Marcus, which was difficult while living 1,000 miles away in Tampa.

Recently, I had one of those opportunities.

The St. Louis Deafblind Task Force gives out an award in my brother’s memory each year. The “Marcus Velazquez Service Award,” established in 2004, recognizes a “significant contribution to improving the quality of life for individuals with deafblindness.”


Those involved in his education through school and various agencies, remember his unstoppable spirit, determination and energy. Several folks, including connection mastermind Susan Bonner, project coordinator for the Missouri Deafblind Technical Assistance Project, wanted to honor him and pass on his legacy of vivaciousness in the face of adversity.

This year, the award went to Bridget Wildschuetz, who started Deafblind Family Support Group, a resource for families coping with the joys and frustrations of having a disabled family member. Her five-year-old daughter, Faith, was born with no eyes, a condition known as anophthalmia, derived from a mutation in the SOX2 gene. Called SOX2 anophthalmia syndrome, the disorder includes hearing loss, feeding issues, developmental delays and a severe sleep disorder.

On the website devoted to chronicling Faith’s progress, the family has made 2 Corinthians 5:7 its motto: “We walk by faith, not by sight.”

Faith Wildschuetz, on her 5th birthday. (Photo from

Faith Wildschuetz, on her 5th birthday. (Photo from

As I sat listening to Bridget talk about how Faith has taught her so much about life, I had one of those time-space flashbacks that started in 1997. My mind and emotions sped through a tunnel of the past 17 years, leaving me thinking about how Marcus left me so much to return home to.

At 18, I only wanted to leave St. Louis. I made it to Columbia, Mo., graduated from Mizzou,  and then went all the way to Oregon in 2005. Then I relocated to the other side of the country when I landed my first grown-up job in Tallahassee, Fla. I also made my way to Tampa. Each move was scary, of course, but burgeoning with the excitement that comes along with new adventures and reinvention.

Reinvention is different when you return home. A new place is a blank slate. When you move back, it’s about making peace with where you came from, and figuring out how to grow from those roots — some nurtured, some abandoned and others discovered.

Call it karmic duty, but I believe we all have a unique role to play in this life. No one is the same. We’re each given a set of skills and experiences in a combination that defines our existence. Finding that destiny means walking by faith, not by sight.

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