Where there is a Will, there is Way

Where there is a Will, there is Way

Today we feature someone, whose humor and strength, is sure to inspire you.

William Ryan Jopling is a shy, yet intrepid, adventurer who has been a volunteer for over 26 years. He is an avid hiker and dare devil who loves working out. His current goal is to be in the best shape of his life at 52. He has been a curler, dragon boater, tennis player, team manager, auction caller, Sherpa and so much more. William is also visually impaired and has been overcoming obstacles to live his best life since his diagnosis in primary school.

“I grew up on the east side of Winnipeg and attended a public school,” shares William. “I was the only blind kid in my neck of the woods. I had to carry the big CCTV (close-circuit television) the school provided from class to class. I was building muscle from a young age!”

“I want to show other blind people that vision impairment is not an obstacle or a roadblock,” William answers when asked why he volunteers. “It is something that you can adapt and overcome. Volunteering also shows good credibility for job openings.”

William bravely learned to trust himself walking on different sides of a cliff, not knowing if there was a drop, or how big the drop might be. He feels that not having depth perception allowed him to not feel fear.

“I always say, ‘Where there is a Will (William) there is a way! And since I am Will there is always a way,” he laughs. “I love to challenge myself more each year and to try new things.”

William started volunteering at CNIB in 1998 after joining the blind curling team, and is still doing so today. He has also volunteered with CRIS Adaptive Adventures and with Dragon Boat teams. He has won several medals, “including gold, lots of silver and some bronze over the years.”

“In 1999, a lady at CNIB contacted me and said she was forming a dragon boat team,” explains William.  “A group of us met to discuss the team and ended up forming the ‘Sonar Dragons’.  It was new to me and I never knew I could do it. Look at me now.”

William takes pride in founding the Sonar Dragons and then also volunteering to manage the ‘Trailing Paddle Monkeys’ Dragon Boat team in Winnipeg. “They weren’t doing well and after I went out to train them, they celebrated three first place and one third place finishes that season.”

With CRIS Adaptive Adventures he volunteered for 14 years to help people with disabilities enjoy the outdoors.

“I was a volunteer “Sherpa” – the person who is on the front of the trail rider, pulling them through the trails,” laughs William. “I found my way because there was someone walking five feet in front of me and I followed their ankles.  If they tripped I would not step there.”

William has a few favourite memories that he gained while volunteering, including getting the nickname “Donny” because a CRIS participant thought he looked like Donny Wahlberg, and playing catch with a seal on a tennis trip.

“We were on Main Island and I threw the ball into the water and the seal threw it back,” says William. “People just saw me throwing the ball and did not know who was throwing it back. It was amazing.”

William encourages everyone to volunteer with organizations and opportunities they would learn from. “Volunteering with blind people and people with would be a humbling experience,” he states, knowing that volunteers are needed in every organization to make it work. “You would gain so much new information and a new and different outlook.”

To find your volunteer opportunity, contact us at www.kcr.ca or the VolunteerConnector (www.volunteerconnector.org). CNIB is also looking for a Vision Mate and for this rewarding position go to https://www.cnib.ca/en/volunteer-opportunity/vision-mate-1?region=bc.
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