Everyone else had left, but Kyle Coon, the instructor of the spinning class, had stayed behind with one student.
One-on-one, he was pushing her to do better and to challenge herself even though his job teaching the 1-hour class was finished.
“He kept me motivated and he kept telling me, ‘You’re stronger than you think you are,’” said Saraya Perry.
At just ten months old, Coon was diagnosed with Bilateral Sporadic Retinoblastoma, also known as cancer of the eye. He underwent procedures to remove his left and right eyes at ages 5 and 6, respectively.
“I went through this stage of depression, I was angry and scared about being blind,” Coon said.
Coon found a role model in Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Through Weihenmayer, Coon learned that he, too, could overcome blindness and accomplish extraordinary feats. He uses his triumph over blindness to show others that limits are all in the mind.
“I love to inspire and motivate people to reach their full potential through my experiences,” said Coon.
He has certainly made this mission evident in his life. Coon enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, canoeing and camping; he has even hiked Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak on the continent of Africa. Oftentimes, Coon and his fiancée Kailee Smith enjoy these activities together.
Smith says that Kyle Coon is just like any other guy, and even more remarkable in some ways.
“He’s the love of my life. I don’t even notice that he’s blind because he’s always been able to do anything that anyone else can do,” Smith said.
Coon is also a member of Team Sight Unseen, a group that includes him and five other men. The group goes on outdoor adventures including hiking trips to places like Gannett Peak, WY. They document their trips and upload videos to their blog at TeamSightUnseen.com.
Out of all of his successes, Coon values his positive attitude toward life as his crowning achievement.
“My biggest accomplishment is my attitude. I try not to limit myself in any endeavor,” said Coon.
Coon carries this ideology into his academic life; he is studying interpersonal organizational communication in hopes that he might one day be able to motivate and inspire people as his role model did for him.
In every aspect of his life, Coon’s peers can’t help but notice his remarkable attitude and personality.
“I believe Kyle is more perceptive to his students, even more so than someone with sight, and that’s saying a lot about an instructor,” said Coon’s supervisor, Jack Crumley.
Coon can be found walking around campus with his Seeing Eye dog, Tyrone, or in the gym teaching spinning, washboard abs and other group exercises.