Those are the words of Russian-born teenager Yelena Davidenko, who lost her sight as the result of a tumor. Since receiving the Gateway computer with talking software as a Patient Care Program gift from the Everett Lions Club and the Northwest Lions Foundation, the 18-year-old has rushed through those newly-opened doors at a speed that has amazed her teachers at Cascade High in Everett.
“When I first met her, Yelena was very sad and downcast and believed that blind people could do nothing,” says teacher and mentor Denise Mehlenbacher. “She had been out of school for five years. Then, with the help of talking software, she discovered the great advantage of computers, which she had never touched before. When I saw that spark grow in her, I knew she needed a computer to keep her alive through the summer months of no school. I told her I was contacting the Lions for help. She didn’t understand at first, and as I explained the concept, she grew so excited and told me, ‘I had no idea there were such people who did things like that!’”
Since I got my computer, I feel like I received half of my vision back. It gave me wings and opened doors that I had no idea were there.
With the help of the computer, Yelena flew through her education with a 3.8 grade point average and a gift for math. She knows what she wants to do with her life: “Looking at what the Lions have done, I want to do the same,” says Yelena. “I want to help people; want to make them happy; I want to make a difference in somebody’s life.“