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Local youth competes in olympics

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Posted: Friday, January 30, 2009 12:00 pm | Updated: 8:14 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Sheena Williams

Killeen Daily Herald

WACO – Light and dark are all that translate through Laramy Tournear's eyelids, but the limitations of the 15-year-old's eyesight can't mask his inquisitive mind and ambition to become the best professional wrestler in the world.

Yet, his senses absorb the slightest of sounds and his delicate fingertips feel the world around him with a heightened sensitivity that has given Laramy a new outlet of independence: a computer.

With the help of a small, rectangular box called a Braille Note, Laramy can not only type out his school work but he can select menus, print out documents, and soon the talkative teen will be able to surf the Web.

He has had two months of practice on the custom keyboard, but it soon boiled down to training for Thursday's Technology Olympics in Waco.

Laramy joined the ranks with six other Killeen students as they represented the city in a Central Texas-wide competition for visually impaired students. He was a little nervous.

"I thought I might do bad, but I'm just a little anxious," Laramy admitted after his first Braille Note competition. He read several brailled words and used the keyboard to type them out as his teacher, Debbie Sanchez, nervously looked over his shoulder. It was an experience she couldn't miss.

"I think he did very well for his first Braille Note competition," said Sanchez, who has been a vision aide for Laramy

since he was in third grade. "He trained really hard for it, and I'm really proud because his first year doing braille was very difficult for him, but this year, he just seemed to be more at ease and he did a good job."

Along with the Braille Note competition, Laramy submitted a beaded necklace and earrings set in the art category, and he wrote an essay, receiving awards for both of them.

As Laramy went off to take pictures with some of the other participants, Ted York looked over the competitors as they chatted with each other, and completed several artistic and tactile activities.

The event was the 12th of its kind, and the field director for the Waco Region Division for Blind Services said it is his favorite competition that his organization sponsors.

"All the kids come and they get to see their friends every year," York said. "Also with the new kids coming in that may come from schools where they've never encountered another blind person – they get to see and relate with their peers and talk about the problems they run into, and that's always a great thing.

"Then they get to deal with the technology and test themselves on it and the technology eventually is not only going to help them in school, but it's going to help them in college, and it's going to help them go to work."

Contact Sheena Williams at sheenaw@kdhnews.com or 501-7553.

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