On April 23, 2021, the FSDB Blind Elementary/Middle School welcomed virtual guest speaker Randall Crosby. He is an entrepreneur, business owner, husband, father, runner (triathlete, marathoner, 5Ker), rock climber, Toast Master, and advocate--and that is just a shortlist. Randall is also a person who is totally blind.
Crosby’s presentation focused on overcoming obstacles, having a positive attitude, and business opportunities available to people who are visually impaired. He tailored his presentation for each of his audiences – elementary and middle school students and staff members, and parents/guardians who attended a Parent Engagement Workshop on the same day.
Diagnosed at the age of eight with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), Crosby experienced a gradual loss of sight during his childhood and early adulthood, culminating in becoming legally blind by the age of 27. He was working for the Marriott Corporation and raising two small children with his wife. It was a devastating blow for Crosby to leave his career, a loss that was compounded by having to surrender his driver’s license. He experienced a total loss of independence and slipped into a period of self-doubt.
Enter the Randolph Sheppard Act. Under this program, state rehabilitation agencies recruit, train, license, and place individuals who are blind as operators of vending facilities located on federal and other properties (blindmerchants.org). The program gives people who are blind “first rights” to employment in these facilities. This program was a game-changer for Crosby. In 1998, he and his wife began operating a snack bar at Kennedy Space Center, where he met many people who influenced and encouraged him to do more, be more, and achieve more. And that is exactly what he did! Crosby went on to open a cafeteria at Kennedy for several years and presently manages a rest stop vending machine business in Saint Augustine.
Crosby credits his success with having a positive attitude, trying new things, and cultivating lasting friendships. In addition to his career successes, Mr. Crosby is an avid runner and very active in outdoor endeavors. He is president of the local chapter of Toastmasters of Saint Augustine, where he regularly participates in public speaking contests and is a member of the Florida Bureau of Business Enterprise. He resides in St. Augustine with his wife Patty, where he continues to stay active, involved, and enthusiastic about life.
His favorite quote is by author John Bingham, “The miracle is not that I finished this race; the miracle is that I had the courage to start it.”
Crosby donated three books to FSDB from the series The Girl with the Robot Leg, written by a friend he met through running. The author, Emily Ann Harvey, was born with a malformed leg. She tells her true story of overcoming obstacles and learning to walk, run, and lead a rewarding and active life using her prosthetic robot leg. Crosby referenced the book when presenting to our elementary students. The books are available in both print and braille in our Blind Library. Crosby also shared resources (links below) regarding the Randolph Sheppard Vendors of Florida, Toastmasters of Saint Augustine, and the Bureau of Business Enterprise.
It is so essential for our visually impaired students and their families to interact with role models in the blind community who lead successful and rewarding lives. We were honored to welcome Crosby to share his story.