(Council Bluffs)--Tyler Juranek is visually impaired. Has been since birth. That's not something he can control right now. The one thing he can control, however, is his attitude and his determination to see someday and help others to do the same.
Through events like the Ride into Sight Tractor Ride, he's working to make it happen.
Tyler is the son of Gary and Kim Juranek of Council Bluffs. Gary is an auctioneer in the area while Kim is a retired teacher. His sister, Brittney and brother-in-law, John, live in the Omaha area.
Tyler keeps very busy.
He's an Eagle Scout, has his own radio show through the American Council for the Blind Radio Interactive called "Knock on Corn" and is a licensed massage therapist. His massage business is called Unleashed Relief.
He's also very motivated.
"I love proving people wrong," he says. "I love it when people tell me 'Tyler, you're not going to be able to do this because you're visually impaired', or 'Tyler, you can't see so this isn't safe.' It's good for me because it motivates me to work harder at whatever it is I do."
That type of motivation spurred him to create the Ride into Sight Tractor Ride.
Tyler had been on tractor rides before and some of them were fundraisers for various medical conditions and research, so Tyler had an idea.
"Let's start one for eyes," he says. "Nobody does one for eyes. Someday we're going to need a lot of research to help my impairment so it takes a lot of money to do the research, so let's do something about that and make it happen quicker."
So the Ride into Sight Tractor Ride was born last fall and will continue this coming August 3rd, departing from Old Highway 6 Tractor east of Council Bluffs at around 9am.
Tyler says there's a convenient loading dock at the dealership for tractors and folks usually start showing up between 8am and 8:30am.
He says the cost is $25 for the ride which includes lunch and snacks and of course, priceless conversation with friends and the opportunity to visit with and make new friends as well.
"One of the things I enjoy most about the tractor rides is having a chance to visit with people," he says. "Every tractor has a story and it's always good to hear that story."
Tyler's tractor of choice is a handsome 1948 Oliver 88 with a double seat. It allows him to drive his green machine with a friend who helps him navigate.
One of the things Tyler enjoys doing on breaks during the fundraising event is to give folks an update on what's going on in the realm of eyesight research.
"We raise money for the University of Iowa Retinal Research Fund," he says. "There is a doctor there who I have seen now for a long time named Dr. Boldt and he is head of retinal research. The retinal research is what's going to help me and a lot of other people, someday cure visual impairments."
The need is great.
"It takes a lot of money to do all that research so when you're coming to the tractor ride you're not only driving for yourself, you're driving to help raise awareness that number one, visually impaired people are capable of way more than what people think and you're showing the world how supportive you are of it and you're also helping many, many people who would love to get on a tractor but can't because they can't see."
If Tyler has anything to do with it, because of efforts like Ride into Sight, he and others with visual impairments will be able to drive tractors by themselves with the aid of sight before the end of his lifetime.
For more information on the second Ride into Sight Tractor Ride, call 402-594-5384 and for more insights into Tyler's story and mission, check out his audio segments below here at KMAland.com.