Sightseeing. A periodic tour of CVI news, views and events.

Former STARS Student Succeeds On & Off the Goalball Court

Former CVI STARS student Matt Simpson poses in USA Goalball uniform.

Former STARS participant Matt Simpson is living his best life and credits at least part of that success to what he learned at the Center for the Visually Impaired (CVI).

“CVI showed me from a very early age that living life with a visual impairment did not have to be anything less; less fulfilling, less adventurous, less ambitious,” says Simpson.

Simpson’s first experience with CVI was around the age of four. He was diagnosed with Leber hereditary optic neuropathy, an extremely rare condition (1 in 25,000) that occurs mostly in young males. He spent his formative years participating in the STARS (Social, Therapeutic, Academic, Recreational Services) program gaining the skills and self-confidence to be successful in whatever he wanted to do despite his vision loss.

“I found my first role models through CVI,” says Simpson. “The STARS program for school-aged individuals showed me that life was about getting out and doing things, even when someone tells you it’s impossible. That’s a good lesson for anyone blind or not.”

Baseball was his first love, but eventually he turned his focus to sports that didn’t rely on vision as much until one day he was introduced to goalball at summer camp. He had found a sport that provided the same kind of thrill that baseball did and was specifically designed for athletes with vision impairment. He put his all into becoming one of the best goalball players and made it all the way to the 2016 Rio Paralympics where he was part of the Silver Medal winning Men’s USA National Goalball Team.

Since then Simpson has worked for the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) and currently serves as the Secretary of the Board for the USABA, as an athlete representative to the Athlete Advisory Counsel of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and as a member of the Paralympic Advisory Committee to the USOPC. Simpson graduated from Washington and Lee University in 2012 as a Johnson Scholarship recipient for leadership and academic excellence and will graduate with a law degree from the University of Virginia in May 2020.

CVI is excited that Simpson will serve as this year’s keynote speaker at Dining in the Dark. Learn more of his story here. And to hear him tell his story in person join us for Dining in the Dark on September 28 at the Georgia Tech Hotel & Conference Center. Get your tickets today!