“I live in the house where I was raised in Prichard. When I was 16, I dropped out of high school and went to Job Corps. That saved my life and it is where the Lord found me. When I came home, I found out most of my friends were killed or in jail. I didn’t want that to be me. I have always been an entrepreneur. I cleaned cars and had my own parking lot striping business. I had no idea back then that I would go blind. I was cleaning a guy’s car and bought a hot dog from his food truck that didn’t look professional. I thought if I had my own trailer I would make it pretty. God spoke to my heart and told me to build it. I bought my trailer in 1997, but let me dad have it because I didn’t have a mental vision for it. It sat at my dad’s house for many years.
I have been blind for almost seven years. One eye has glaucoma. High blood pressure busted a vessel in my other eye. It is like looking through wax paper. I can barely make out light perception. I used to be a missionary in Haiti. We walked 12 hours into the mountains to reach people who had never heard the gospel and take Bibles to them. I love the Haitians and it was hard to leave when my eyesight became so dim that I could barely see. I came back to the U.S. for surgery but nothing could correct it. I was blind and my missionary work was over. It felt like the end of the world.
I went to the Alabama School For Blind in Talladega for 18 months where they teach blind people to do anything they want. I was depressed, but at school I read the book The Blind Doctor: The Jacob Bolotin Story about a blind man who became a doctor. I got off the couch and changed my thinking. My vision became to start my food truck. The school gave me one shot to pass the test and get certified in food. I wasn’t good at typing on computers, but I studied hard. I made the highest grade in the class and I am certified to handle food. I learned how to use my walking stick and an iPhone. I can now do email, text, research, and work on my business plan on my iPhone.
I got out of school in 2016 and this trailer was just a shell when I got it back. I didn’t know how to do any of this before I started, but I knew how to research and learn. I have done much of the work on this trailer and my cousin helps with the jobs and measuring I can’t do. He showed me where to put the drill for the holes the rivets and held the siding in place while I drilled. I had to learn how to nail a nail without popping my hand. I learned not to hit it so hard the first time. My hands are like my eyes and I feel everything to know that it is right. I designed everything on here from scratch and go behind and check the work I didn’t do.
I ride the handicap bus to Lowes by myself. I walk to the service desk and they help me around the store to find what I need. At first, they thought I was crazy. I feel the things and tell them exactly what I need. My walking stick is four feet and I use that to measure. I picked out the colors and a body shop painted the trailer for me. My niece and I designed the lettering. I rode the bus to the sign shop and they got all of the lettering down. Alabama Vocational Rehab helped me a lot with financing and getting the equipment inside. I have everything for this trailer in my mind and what I need. If you take this trailer away from me, I can build it again.
My goal is to have this food truck finished at the end of the month and to be in Mardi Gras. I need windows, some stainless steel, a generator, and my business license. Every day I come out to the trailer and say yep, you are coming. I say out loud the things that I see in my head. I run my hands over the trailer and see the beautiful people lined up to get their orders. I am going to cook for parties and special events and make money, but I am also going to use this trailer to give back to the community. I can see myself giving hot meals to the homeless.
I will do some cooking, but I will also have professional cooks. My family worked at a seafood restaurant for years and my sister and nephew are going to work with me. I learned how to fry food in school. I can feel the texture of the food to tell if it is done. I cook in my house and burning my hand is the last thing I worry about. I can iron my clothes without burning my hand.
When I was at the School for the Blind, I became good friends with a man who said he had never felt God until he met me. He started coming to my room at night to pray and gave me his Stetson cowboy hat that I am wearing now. He committed suicide after he got out of school because he couldn’t cope with his blindness. My name is Sammy and I named this food truck Cowboy Sammie’s in memory of him. I want to get some cow horns to put on the top.
I pray to God a lot and couldn’t do this without Him. The work hasn’t been easy, but I listen to motivational speakers such as Tony Robbins, Earl Nightingale, Jim Rohn to keep going. I try to stay away from negative people. Blind people do things everyone else does, we just have our own way of doing it. Don’t feel sorry for us and don’t hold us back from trying. We will tell you if we want help.
They laughed at Noah, they laughed at me, too. I let them laugh because their laughter motivates me. One day they saw the yellow go up, the next day they saw the tires go on, then they saw my deep fryer up and the equipment inside. I am about 90 percent done and I look back all of the time to see how far I have come. I touch the sides and I am amazed.
My eyesight is dimmer than when I started, but I am excited when I get up each morning. I started ministering to inmates at the Mobile Metro Jail. What can I do today? I want people to be encouraged. No matter what, find your vision and go for your dream.”