Shane Aguilera got an early start on his achievements. At age 2, he began playing the piano. He started competing in the Wayfinder Paralympics (previously named the Junior Blind Olympics) when he was just 6 years old. He added guitar-playing to his talents, as well as composing his own music. And he released a solo country album, Shane Rider, at age 18 in February. You can find his album on Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify and more.
For his excellence in and out of the classroom, Shane received the Sixth Annual Stevie Wonder Star Student Award, presented by Stevie Wonder himself at Wayfinder’s Children’s Holiday Carnival in December 2018. Shane was surprised and very pleased to receive the award.
After the on-stage presentation, Shane spent time with Stevie. “I thought he was pretty cool,” Shane recalls. “I enjoyed talking to him. We did duets on ‘Walking the Floor Over You’ and ‘The Christmas Song.’”
Stevie gave Shane a lesson on Stevie’s harpejji, an electric stringed instrument played by tapping keys. “I was able to play some music on it and to figure out musical chords and melodies,” Shane says.
Dawn, Shane’s mother, was delighted by Shane’s interaction with Stevie. “I didn’t want to have big expectations about a celebrity,” Dawn says. “But the experience was awesome. Shane and Stevie were talking, playing music, sharing their phones. I felt like they were two friends hanging out.”
Shane was born with bilateral retinoblastoma, cancer in the retinas of both eyes, and has no vision. He competed in the Wayfinder Paralympic Games from ages 6 to 13—the 50-yard dash was his favorite event.
As a teenager, he attended Camp Bloomfield. “It was good for him to be around other kids who were completely blind,” says Dawn. “Most of the kids at his school were visually impaired, and he was the only completely blind kid. At Camp Bloomfield, it was good for him to see counselors who were blind. It built his confidence.”
Shane agrees that he gained confidence at camp, and he made new friends. “I learned to do things with a group,” Shane says. “I learned teamwork. Being disconnected from the Internet meant I could socialize more.”
Shane hopes to pursue a career in music and applied to colleges with music programs. With the gift of perfect pitch, Shane can hear a note and determine what it is. “Perfect pitch enables me to understand music in a way that other people don’t,” he explains.
The last two years, Shane has led fundraising projects that raised money for Camp Bloomfield. “He is into giving and making a difference where he can,” says his proud mother.
Wayfinder is very grateful to Shane for helping children and teenagers with vision loss enjoy a transformative camp experience, as he did. Good luck with college and your music, Shane. Your fans at Wayfinder are rooting for you! •
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May 22, 2019