At age 13, Wendy was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), a rare, inherited and degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision impairment. In the 1970s, little was known about the disease. Wendy was the only one in her family diagnosed. This led doctors to use the term “freak of nature,” meaning they did not know why Wendy contracted RP. Wendy and her parents were shocked and bewildered by the use of that statement. Her parents were given very little assistance to help Wendy embrace the impact RP would have on her life.
Wendy reveals personal childhood struggles to fit in with her family and peers. The result of low vision with only two years of High School support from an Intermediate Instructor caused Wendy to question her self-esteem. Wendy was not encouraged to challenge herself; therefore she never realized her true abilities. Wendy takes the audience through the moment she discovers she is not defined by RP, rather, RP is simply a part of her. Follow Wendy as she shares how she transformed herself from a shy, introverted young woman, to a strong, accomplished, independent woman.
Wendy shares her life story with the hope an audience member can identify with how a single element of your life can hold you back. Any single element, regardless of what it is, can make you feel disabled, keeping you from becoming your best you, but it doesn’t have to.
Wendy loves to speak with children. She learned from the “little girl” inside her how to help children embrace their differences and those of others. The children in the audience come away knowing they are special, unique and someone to celebrate. Wendy achieves this goal more comfortably through the use of her guide dog.
Wendy is a master of engaging and teaching audiences how her life was forever changed on the day she picked up the harness handle of her first guide dog and said “Forward Udine.” The excitement, trepidation and knowledge she gained by receiving her guide dog offered Wendy a new beginning. She would go on to achieve so much more than she ever anticipated. Wendy’s ability to explain each detail makes you feel like you are living the experience. She is no longer shy, and is an open book willing to share her journey. Finally, Wendy has a unique talent to add humor to her storytelling. She will have tears in your eyes one moment and smiles on your face the next.
Wendy lives in Royersford PA. She will travel to schools, scout meetings and other children’s groups in her area. Wendy speaks to many adult audiences such as college groups, senior centers, organization luncheons, Take your Children to Work Day, and church groups. Wendy is flexible with her fee structure which can range from a donation to The Seeing Eye® or a nominal fee. She does require reimbursement for travel and accommodation as needed. Click here to arrange a speaking engagement with Wendy.
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We were fortunate to have Mrs. Sherid come to our school to share with students the amazing things that service dogs do to help those in need. The children learned a lot about how much time and care volunteers give to help others in need. Students loved seeing a well trained dog do their best work. They also loved seeing the service dogs in training and talking to the incredibly knowledgeable volunteers. The assembly was an amazing opportunity for our students to learn about how service dogs can help people live fulfilling lives.”
Brian Druzba, Learning Support Teacher, Washington Elementary School, Barto PA
"It's not about being better than someone else. It's about being better than you were yesterday.