At 14 years old, Jodi Stout of Waterloo, Wis., was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease called retina picmentosa. Now, 52 years old, Jodi is totally blind and learning to regain her independence.
“It’s a slow disease. I had a driver’s license until I was 30 years old,” she recalled. “It was the hardest part of my independence that I lost.”
Over the past year of her recovery, she started working with Victoria Baker, a Cigna vocational rehabilitation counselor, who recommended she participate in the Achilles Cigna Customer Referral Program. The program provides Cigna long term disability customers access to training resources and the ability to participate in mainstream athletic events as a member of Achilles International.
“I never participated in a race before, so I’m excited and nervous,” Karen said. “I walk three to five miles a day.”
Cigna is sponsoring 28 Achilles athletes at the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna. Achilles is a non-profit organization that focuses on helping people with disabilities “return to life.” Team Cigna runners, including Cigna’s chief executive officer David Cordani, will pair with Achilles athletes to serve as guides during the 5K and Disney Half Marathon. This year’s Achilles athletes include 20 adults, five children and three Achilles Cigna Customer Referral Program athletes, which includes Jodi.
As part of regaining her independence, Jodi hopes to return to work eventually. Cigna offers people with visual impairments resources and tools to help regain independence including job placement.
“I loved my job and the people there,” said Karen.
To learn more about Cigna’s work in Disney and see some of the other inspirational stories from our relationship with Achilles International, visit http://www.cigna.com/runDisney.