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From Bad Luck to New Directions

God & Christian stewardship open man up to new path in life

Ricky Trione, an artist and former rehabilitation counselor, has survived two freak roadside accidents that ended up robbing him of his sight and changing his life.

In 2000, Trione had stopped along the highway to check out a mechanical problem on his car when a passing 18-wheeler blew out a tire and a piece of tread hit him in his right eye.

The accident essentially left him nearly blind. Seven years before, Trione had already lost the vision in his left eye in another freak accident, when debris from a logging truck sailed through the open window of his car and permanently damaged his retina.

As he learned to live without his sight, Trione found that he had to make some other adjustments in his life, such as learning to accept help from friends and family.

For example, after the second accident, people at his church would often ask him if he needed a ride or help running errands, but Trione says he always said no. Finally, a friend said, "Ricky, you know, when you don't accept help, you're robbing me of a blessing, and you're robbing yourself of a blessing. God wants us to help each other."

"That really resonated with me," says Trione, "that I was robbing fellow Christians of a blessing. I started praying about that and asking God to help me let people help me."

That openness to new ideas and assistance led him in directions he never could have expected.

Before his accidents, when he had full vision, Trione did pen-and-ink drawings, but only as a hobby. After he lost his sight, though, an artist friend of his offered to teach him how to make art using his other senses. Only then did Trione break out of the black-and-white world and start making bright, bold paintings of sea life and Bible stories.

Now Trione teaches schoolchildren how to finger-paint with their eyes closed, traveling with his wife, Bonnie, to classrooms around Alabama and beyond. In addition to art lessons, he also tells the kids that sometimes, bad things happen, "but if we let God and others into our life we can make lemons into lemonade."

"I've had kids at schools say, 'Mr. Ricky, if you could snap your fingers and have your vision back, would you do it?'" says Trione. "I tell them no, that I would just stay the way I am because I believe God uses me a lot more now than he was able to use me when I was sighted."

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