In 2018, twelve blind teenagers who grew up in the desert heat, void of an ocean, defied all odds and learned how to sail at a local lake. The dozen, known as the Blind Buccaneers, later journeyed hundreds of miles across the sea without the use of eyesight to guide them. In a moving tale about perseverance, courage and grit, the award-winning documentary “Ocean of Obstacles,” was just released on digital and cable VOD by Gravitas Ventures, a Red Arrow Studios Company, last month.
The film was the brainchild of Phoenix-based director, Louie Duran, who first discovered the Foundation for Blind Children and their challenge events in 2015. He began documenting these stories several years later at Lake Pleasant Harbor. The challenge events are part of an on-going effort by the Foundation to inspire visually-impaired individuals to achieve more in life.
“I witnessed the strength and hope these kids possess shine from challenging themselves. When given the opportunity to show the world this life-changing experience, I jumped at the chance,” Duran says. “Every one of these kids had to overcome fear and doubt to reach their goals, and they all became my heroes.”
Marc Ashton, CEO of the Foundation and creator of the challenge events, shares, “Whether it’s to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, the bottom of the Grand Canyon, or across the ocean, our kids rise to the challenge.”
The documentary was recently awarded “Winner of Best True Story,” “Winner of Special Innovation Award for Creative Storytelling,” and “Most Inspirational Film” at the Las Vegas and Orlando Film Festivals.
Elle Dingwell, one of the young blind castmates who attends Horizon High School, says, “I feel like this trip has helped me become better at making new friends and really made me know what I want out of life and how I am going to get there.”
Dingwell, who is also the first blind female Eagle Scout, continues, “I feel like this trip has certainly made me a stronger person and I was glad that I did it because I learned a lot.”
The documentary is available on Apple TV. To learn more about The Foundation for Blind Children and ways to help, visit seeitourway.org.