9-year-old Sarasota boy with visual impairment shares importance of White Cane Awareness Day

Sarasota County

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – October 15 is nationally recognized as White Cane Awareness Day.

For 9-year-old Cooper Vollmer and his family, this day means a lot.

“We are so proud of Cooper and who he is becoming as a little young man. He has been dealt some curveballs, he has stepped up to the plate every time and most times he’s actually hit it right out of the park. I think he is really putting a face behind a white cane and he might be changing some perceptions about what blindness is,” said Cooper’s mother Tina Vollmer.

White Cane Awareness Day was established back in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson to raise awareness for those who those who are visually impaired and carry a white cane.

Cooper served as a local spokesperson for the day of awareness Thursday. He lead a group across Main Street in Downtown Sarasota after sharing what the white cane means for him.

“I don’t like carrying it around with me at all, but I know it will keep me safe and it will let others know that I can’t see that well and they could maybe help me,” said the nine-year-old.

Sarasota Mayor Jen Ahearn Koch made a proclamation Thursday morning, recognizing Oct. 15 as White Cane Awareness Day, a day of special importance and worthy of recognition of the citizens of the City of Sarasota.

“Cooper is fiercely independent and in his comfort zone, that is fine, but if we send him out into the world that doesn’t know about his disability and doesn’t know what blindness might look like or how different it might look for each person, then we have set him up for failure with a false sense of security,” said Tina Vollmer. ” If we don’t do our part to get the world ready for him, we have failed him, so we are grateful for today, we are grateful to acknowledge this day for what it is, we are grateful for all of you coming together to acknowledge it and bring awareness to it,” she continued.

Officers with the Sarasota Police Department were on site reminding drivers of the importance of not driving distracted. Officer Jason Frank with the traffic unit is urging drivers to put down their phones, makeup and food, turn down the radio, and pay attention.

“We want to make sure that we keep everyone safe, you don’t do yourself or anybody else any good if you don’t make it to your destinations safely,” said Officer Frank. “We want to keep people like Cooper safe when they are crossing the street. We want to make sure people are aware when they come up to the crosswalk, look for the lights, to stop on red, to do the right thing. It is not just about you behind the wheel, it is about everyone else behind the wheel and on the bikes and on foot waiting to cross properly,” he continued.

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