The Little Things in Life

An inspirational person who cannot take advantage of the “little things” in life that people don’t think of losing.

If you have it, you take it for granted.

Few understand what life is like without it, because you are supposed to have it.

It allows you to see the beautiful landscapes, zestful colors and wondrous sites.

Yet not all are so lucky.

Mercy student Amanie Riley has been missing the simple but important sense of sight ever since she was two years old. Riley was diagnosed with retinoblastoma.

“I am completely blind,” explained Riley. “I developed cancer in the retina around 2, and because of that I had to have both of my eyes removed. By the age of 4, I was completely blind.”

Amanie Toni Riley was born on Dec. 26, 1993.  By age 4, Amanie successfully endured  two additinal major eye surgeries.  She proceeded to overcome numerous radiation and chemotherapy treatments. In Amanie’s early childhood. She was taught how to read and write Braille and worked with special technology that aided her in fulfilling her educational journey.

While many parents spend the early years of a child’s life awaiting a child walking and talking, Amanies’ parents had to deal with the reality that their child would be permanently disabled.

“I was young, so I really don’t remember the surgery,” said Riley. “I remember the treatments, but as I got older, I was taught how to read and I was taught how to use special equipment to help me to focus in school with other students.”

Retinoblastoma is a malignant tumor on the retina, the light-sensing part of the eye, and is highly curable if treated early. This type of cancer can be present in one or both eyes, says Web MD.

Riley still lives her normal life, does every day activities, and doesn’t let anything stop her. She enjoys studying and learning at Mercy College just as much as the next person, but she enjoys her leisure weekends as well.

“On the weekends I like to listen to a lot of audio books, homework and of course, hang out with friends,” said Riley. “There is nothing that stops me from doing with what I want to do.”

Riley has never stopped herself from being the best person that she can be. She has spoken at numerous events and given uplifting speeches. She attended a Montessori elementary and middle school and received numerous awards for academic excellence.  She was also presented with special awards from the City of Yonkers.  In 2007, Riley entered into a high school for blind and visually impaired students and excelled with high honors while receiving awards for her leadership skills and abilities.

Riley was also on the track, swim, and cheerleading team and traveled to different states to compete against students from schools for the blind and visually impaired.

She continued to beat the odds when she was vice president in her senior year and graduated as the valedictorian in 2011.  She has spoken in Albany to rally against budget cuts for blind and deaf schools.

Riley is very active in her community at home and at school. She is currently on the Honor Roll at Mercy College. After her years at Mercy College, Riley plans to go back to school to receive her certification in teaching blind and visually impaired students.

Riley is a very determined individual who will stop at nothing to succeed in she wants to do in her life. She has completed, and still participates in, demanding training to help her navigate not only Mercy College, but her necessary surroundings.

“I like the school because I can pretty much navigate any building, and I like the Braille on the walls,” explained Riley. “The advisors, counselors and services are great. I like it here”

Someone who is blind or visually impaired often has to go through training to feel comfortable with his or her surroundings, as well as being able to know a location.

“I received and still receive mobility training, which is a service that teaches visually impaired individuals to travel independently as they navigate inside buildings or outside on the streets, buses, and trains,” explained Riley. “This training helps you to use your cane skills to walk inside or outside safely and efficiently.  This training assists you in learning different routes to certain locations such as the clothing store, bank, or coffee shop.”

With all this training and mandatory attention, Riley gets all the help and reinforcement from her family and friends.

“My parents were upset about the fact that I was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, but they were very supportive and made sure I received all of the necessary services that would help me to be successful and independent in the future.” stated Riley.

Besides Riley keeping herself busy with homework, school work and being active in her community, she has plenty of other hobbies. She sings, writes and listens to poetry. She enjoys public speaking at different schools and hanging out with friends.

Though Riley is a busy person, she always seems to have time to laugh, smile and enjoy her life with the help of her family, friends and peers.And she reminds them all the time that not only is she thankful for them, but that they should be thankful for what they have.

For it is something she does not have.

“If I were to have the opportunity to have my sight restored by surgery, I would accept it immediately,” said Riley. “I would almost trade everything I have in this world right now to see again.”