A childhood accident blinded Mike May, but his disability never limited him. He drove motorcycles, hiked and even went downhill skiing.
Then after nearly a lifetime of darkness, May's doctors told him a stem cell and cornea transplant could restore his sight. May signed up for the surgery but soon discovered seeing wasn't necessarily believing.
The book "Crashing Through" by Rob Kurson chronicles May's journey after he regained his sight. May struggled with his new gift. He had trouble differentiating between men and women. Colors and patterns fascinated him, but his brain had forgotten how to process images. Learn how May dealt with his medical miracle by reading an excerpt from "Crashing Through" below.
Mike May's life was near perfect when, on February 11, 1999, he made his way to the dais in the ballroom of San Francisco's St. Francis Hotel. The forty-six-year-old businessman had been invited to present the prestigious Kay Gallagher Award for mentoring the blind, an award he'd won himself the previous year. Dozens in the audience knew his history: blinded at age three by a freak accident; three-time Paralympics gold medalist and current world record holder in downhill speed skiing; entrepreneur on the verge of bringing a portable global positioning system (GPS) to the blind; coinventor of the world's first laser turntable; mud hut dweller in Ghana; husband to a beautiful blond wife (in attendance and dressed in a tight black top, short black skirt, and black high heels); loving father; former CIA man.
People watched the way May moved. He walked with a quiet dignity, effortlessly negotiating the obstacle course of banquet tables and chairs, smiling at those he passed, shaking hands along the way. There was more than mobility in his step; his gait seemed free of regret, his body language devoid of longing. Most of the people in this room worked with the blind every day, so they knew what it looked like for a person to yearn for vision. May looked like he was exactly who he wanted to be.
He was accustomed to public speaking, and his messages were always inspiring. But every so often a member of the audience would turn on him, and it usually came at the same part of his talk, the part when he said, "Life with vision is great. But life without vision is great, too." At that point someone would stand and jab his finger and say, "That's impossible!" or "You're not dealing with your inner demons," or "You're in denial." The objections came from both the blind and the sighted. May was always polite, always let the person finish his thought. Then, in the warm but definite way in which he'd spoken since childhood, he would say, "I don't mean to speak for anyone else. But for me, life is great."