WINDSOR - Sight or no sight, John Zinck is a man of vision.
© TC Media - The Hants Journal
The Zinck family â Shannan, Myles and John â cosy up for a photo at the Oasis Community Church.
Zinck lost his eyes to cancer before he turned two. Doctors felt the only way to prevent the congenital disease that caused tumours to grow on each eye from spreading would be to remove the affected organs.
The 38-year-old remembers adapting to vision loss fairly quickly, partly because he lost his sight at such a young age.
âMom and Dad never really told me I couldnât do things. They just let me learn how to do them,â he recalls.
He knew heâd never grow up to be a racecar driver, or brain surgeon. He accepts that.
âI wouldnât want me operating on me â not a chance,â he jokes.
Even as a kid, Zinck made it his mission to focus on the things he can do. He learned to read braille, and figured out how to get around relying on hearing and touch. Later in life, he taught himself to play guitar by listening to cassette tapes and strumming along with the band.
He recalls visiting what was formally known as the School for the Blind, where he met his future wife in their teen years, and wowing his advisors by cutting his own fingernails.
ââIâm thinking, âFingernails? Everybody cuts their fingernails.ââ
Refusing to rely on can openers and microwaves for a meal, he started cooking.
âCooking,â he laughs. âThey were probably horrified at some of my methods but I had learned how to cook by the time I was a teenager â I liked to eat.â
Zinck didnât live the life of an eligible bachelor with unique cooking techniques for long. At 18, he married a girl his age he had been dating for about a year. Shannan, who is 95 per cent blind, has remained by his side for 20 years.
âI see that as he moves forward and as people look at him and see how much heâs accomplished, Iâm a part of that because we are together,â she says.
Their path to parenthood
The early years of marriage werenât easy. On top of being strapped for cash and dealing with the loss of loved ones, the young couple desperately wanted to have a baby. With Zinck unable to biologically father a child due to a medical condition, they opted to adopt.
The first opportunity for adoption ended in disappointment, with the biological mother losing the baby to a tubular pregnancy.
âWe had our hearts set on that,â said Zinck.
Fourteen years passed, and the couple started to question if they would ever have a child. They were living in Moncton and working at an overnight shelter run by Harvest House Atlantic, a faith-based organization that helps people struggling with homelessness, addiction and hurt.
A pregnant client of the overnight shelter would soon present them with the answer to their prayers for a child. The woman had already had four children taken into the system, and was told she wouldnât be keeping this one.
âThis baby was due to be taken at birth and she wanted to have some say as to where this one would go,â Zinck explains.
That baby is now a five-year-old boy preparing for his first day of school in September, much to the delight of his adoring parents.
âOne of the most awesome, wonderful things for us was bringing him home from the hospital,â said Zinck. âIt was amazing.â
From that moment forward, Zinckâs family was complete.
âPeople say, âit must be just like heâs youâre son.â I say, âNo itâs not just like, he just is.ââ
Hearing this, Zinckâs redheaded boy hops off of his motherâs lap, bounces across the room and puts a hand on his fatherâs knee.
âYou help Dad all the time,â says Zinck, with a warm smile.
Myles blushes, and hurries back to his mother to continue reading books.
Making a difference
Zinck, associate pastor at the Oasis Community Church in Windsor, says faith is what keeps his family strong. Their relationship with Christ led them to where they are today.
âHis mission was to make the ultimate difference â bring hope, make change, provide a way where there wasnât one,â says Zinck, who strives to do the same.
Zinck, a volunteer at the Harvest House outreach centre in Windsor, says faith and family have carried him through the most challenging times in his life. In return, he plans to make the most of it.
âIf I can do anything to encourage anybody, or to make a difference, Iâm glad for that.â