Kevin contracted meningitis as a very young child, which caused him to lose most of his eyesight. But he has never let this define him and has gone on to lead a very fulfilling life
Now boxing coach Kevin, from Kingswinford in the West Midlands, has started a podcast with a group of friends. He told us his fascinating story.
“My name is Kevin Dillon.
“I contracted viral meningitis in 1987 when I was only three years old. My mum had taken me to the doctor three times in one week and they thought it was glandular fever. On the Friday I kept complaining about head pain; my mum put me to bed at 7pm where I sat up in bed and said my head hurt and then passed out. We had not got a telephone at the time so Mum put me in the pushchair and ran to my nan's house 300 yards away that did have a phone, they phoned the doctor who said to take me to the hospital right away.
“Once at the hospital it was explained to my mum and dad that I was in a coma. I woke up after about one hour and was kept in overnight.
“The next morning the specialist arrived and because I was screaming and fighting everyone, he said I was a naughty boy and sent me home with my parents.
Lots of tests
“Over the next few days, I kept saying draw the curtains. From being a very active child, I did not want to move off my mum’s lap. My parents noticed I was missing my potty and was bumping into things so phoned the doctor again. When he came out to see me, they realised I had gone blind, the meningitis had not been picked up and had attacked the optic nerve.
“I was then taken to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where I had lots of tests. I was in hospital for around four weeks, where my mum never left my side. My dad still had to work and look after my 13 year old brother; luckily I had very supportive grandparents who helped out.
“Because the meningitis had not been picked up earlier, the optic nerve was so badly damaged, we were advised that it would never recover. I am blind in my left eye and have 3 over 60 in my right eye. This was not the end of the journey, it was just the beginning.
“I went to a main stream school where I was one of the first blind children to attend. I had to have teaching assistance and even though they were not very good, two things they did teach me was how to touch type and how not to teach. Both of these lessons would come in handy later on in life.
“Although I come from a loving family, I suffered a lot from anger and self-esteem issues even though I was outwardly very confident and outgoing.
“I found a release in writing poetry and when I was 15 I self-published a book called Except Me: Poet with Inner Vision. I think people who have a disability find it hard to believe they will ever have a partner and live a normal life.
Found I can really relate
“I come from a boxing family and although I could not compete due to my eyesight, I spent a lot of time training in the gym and have always had a flair for boxing. When I was 18 years old, I went on my Level One coaching course; 18 years later I am Head Coach at the Lions Boxing Club. Alongside all of the national champions I have produced, I teach children from the age of seven. Due to my own experiences, having a disability, and anger issues, I have found I can really relate to a lot of people that would normally be thrown on the scrap heap of life.
“Three friends and I have recently started a podcast called the Black Country Blokes - Chewing the Fat, where we discuss our struggles and victories in life. We say, "It is not that men don’t talk, it is that no-one is listening"; you can find us on Spotify, iTunes, and YouTube. Considering I thought no-one would ever want someone who was disabled or broken, I am five years happily married with a four-year-old daughter. I would like anyone reading this to remember that your disabilities don’t define you. I am not a visually impaired man, I am a man who happens to be visually impaired, and in the wise words of my mum who I love dearly, you are as good as anyone and better than most.
"Take care of yourselves and each other.”