Blind Fort Myers swimmer inspires others to rethink possibilities with disabilities

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Niki Dondero (WINK News)

One Fort Myers woman is inspiring people to rethink possibilities with disabilities.

Niki Dondero launches herself off the pool wall and towards her dreams, stroke by stroke.

“I wanna bring home a gold medal,” she said.

The 28-year-old says she found her passion in the water at a young age.

“I’ve always like swimming, since I was a little girl,” said Dondero.

She has to swim differently than others though, which is why she’s part of the Special Olympics Florida Lee County team.

“They tell me that I’m an inspiration and that I’m amazing,” she said.

Niki Dondero (WINK News)

She has to overcome obstacles to swim because unlike other athletes in the pool, she can’t see.

“I was born blind. I was born premature and I had too much oxygen which caused my retinas to detach,” said Dondero.

Without vision, Dondero relies on her other senses to navigate through the water—like listening for voice commands from volunteer Gloria Jones to guide her.

Dondero hopes her laps inspire other to, “keep trying. Never give up. Don’t let a disability or don’t let anything get in your way.”

Reaching for the wall and for her goals with a can-do attitude and a smile.

Dondero will be in the Special Olympics Florida State Games this weekend in Vero Beach. She will race in the 15 meter unassisted swim on Sunday morning.

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