Lori Pierce is a fighter. Born premature she lost her sight in the first few days of her life, when her retinas were damaged from receiving too much oxygen in the attempt to save her life. Her condition is called retinopathy of prematurity. While this event left her visually impaired it would not become the defining facet of her future.
Lori has some vision. She can see light and shadows and some color. On a good day she can see the shapes of people walk towards her. The more high contrast the light outside the more she can see. At night, when it is dark outside she cannot see at all.
The sport of Judo caught her attention at the age of 15 after she attended a sports camp for blind and visual impaired children. She had the feeling that judo could take her places. She had no idea that it would take her around the world. Lori has competed in blind judo tournaments in France, Brazil, Canada, and Italy. She won a silver medal in the Paralympics in the 2004 games in Athens, Greece. She was the first woman representing the United States to medal in judo.
Lori is a senior psychology major at the University of Texas at Austin. The university environment can be challenging to average student, who must juggle class work, a social life and other activities that place huge demands on their time. Lori faces extra challenges that the typical university student does not have to consider. Transportation, translating books into an accessible form, and dealing with basic chores like grocery shopping all require more time.