The local chapter of the Georgia Council of the Blind regular meetings are at 10 a.m. on second Saturdays at First Presbyterian Church of Conyers, 911 N. Main St. Call (770) 786-5778, or (678) 480-2783. Its October meeting will be held in conjunction with the Lions Club’s Sherman’s Last Burning Fall Festival on Oct. 9 at American Legion Field on Mill Street.
The Newton County Trail PATH Foundation provides an adult tricycle for use by seniors and others who are unable to use a traditional bicycle. For information on the program, call (770) 787-9080, or see newtontrails.org.
It’s an adult tricycle that’s blue in color and has a basket on the back that Wheeler has named Go-Go Girl.
For Wheeler, who is legally blind, Go-Go Girl allowed her to regain a modicum of independence.
"I just love being outdoors and used to love riding bikes," she said.
With the tricycle, she can be on the go without having to depend on others for rides. Unlike riding a bicycle, she doesn’t have to worry about keeping her balance while dodging obstacles.
"If I didn’t have Go-Go Girl, I’d have to wait on my husband to pick me up, to fit me in his schedule," she said. "But with Go-Go Girl, I’m on my schedule."
She took her first solo ride on Thursday, biking the mile from her home to the Covington Branch Library on Floyd Street. For safety, Wheeler rides on the sidewalk. She ably dodged trash cans as she pedaled at a fast walk pace.
Wheeler has a disease that’s hereditary and has left her with just peripheral vision. She has no central vision and it just looks cloudy to her when she looks ahead. It’s a condition that worsens with age.
The former Newton County High School English instructor became aware of the disorder when she was in her 30s. Her failing vision forced her to retire from the classroom in 1996.
The loss of mobility is a major concern for the sight impaired, she said.
"It’s devastating," she said. The big problem is you are unable to transport yourself."
The tricycle allows her to go for a ride with her granddaughters, 11-year-old McKayla Doss and 8-year-old Katie Doss.
Wheeler is an advocate for the sight impaired. She works with the Georgia Council of the Blind and the Covington Lions Club, whose primary community program is working with the vision impaired.
She bought her own tricycle after she tried out a trike through the Newton County Trail PATH Foundation, which provides an adult tricycle for use by seniors and others who are unable to use a traditional bicycle.
"It’s something for folks to do who otherwise couldn’t get out," said Maurice Carter, board chairman for the foundation.
Covington resident Kindle Lord, who is pregnant with twins, has used the foundation trike. She enjoyed biking pre-pregnancy but had been advised against using a bicycle while pregnant.
"It was very freeing," she said. "I felt like a kid again."