Clark Roberts: Inspiring Others to See in New Ways
Clark Roberts has a mission: to teach others that life never quits even through adversity. From business executives to young students, Clark has inspired countless people through his journey of spreading hope with his guide dogs.
Clark was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa at age 18, and gradually lost his vision until age 24, where he was left with nonfunctioning vision with a minimal window to detect light, shadows, and outlines. “The biggest struggle I faced was accepting my broken eyes,” says Clark. “I had to determine what I was going to do: whether I was going to stop everything, or embrace it and continue an exciting, fulfilled life.” Committed to staying active, he used a white cane which he was never too fond of. Luckily, he met a guide dog user in Canada and “realized she got around a whole lot quicker and easier. I was looking for a new mobility tool and as an animal lover, I knew a dog would be best at that moment.” He eventually applied to Guide Dogs for the Blind and was paired with his first guide dog, Missy, a Golden Retriever.
Decades later and with his sixth guide dog, Aurelia, Clark is still amazed at what guide dogs are capable of. The chemistry he has built with his incredibly intelligent guide dogs has allowed him to become confident and have the freedom of mobility that the white cane wasn’t able to provide. Clark also believes a guide dog made him more approachable in public. “When I’m out with my guide dog, people, especially young children, come up to me and ask questions about working dogs,” says Clark. “I love answering these questions and educating the public about what these dogs actually do for somebody such as myself.”
This passion to educate others prompted him to begin public speaking efforts in 1990, visiting schools and businesses to provide tools and knowledge to motivate people to see their life and their opportunities differently. In 2017, Clark established Ultimate Vision, a nonprofit organization that hosts a variety of programs and events that teaches all to reach beyond their limitations, overcome adversity, and live a rewarding life. So far, he has visited every middle school in the Bellevue School District and several high schools, as well as many other schools and venues nationally. Clark has also authored a book, “Wags to You: Short & Long Dog Tails" that reveals his bond with his guide dogs, sharing stories of hope, courage, inspiration, and humor. To appeal to a younger audience, Clark’s wife wrote “A Guide Dog Named Arby,” a book that teaches children how a guide dog is trained and how to interact with a visually impaired person and their guide dog.
Ultimate Vision also hosts many more events including Miles for Smiles, an event to promote Ultimate Vision’s mission by running, cycling, and walking. As an active individual who enjoys skiing, tandem cycling, water skiing, and even skydiving, Clark believes that anyone can live an exciting life and create lasting bonds with friends, family, and community.
Clark hopes to continue working with Aurelia to expand his efforts to give the gift of compassion, kindness, and confidence to all, and promote GDB’s life-changing services. Clark notes, “GDB is such a professional and caring organization. The time, energy, love, and resources the employees and volunteers provide gives me and many others the freedom of mobility, and is absolutely worth it."
To learn more about Ultimate Vision, visit their website at http://www.clarkroberts.org/