Walter Woodward Elementary School third grader Miles Lima took second at the Braille Challenge at the University of Southern California.
The 8-year-old placed in the top 10 of the Apprentice group against students who participated in the Braille Challenge Regional events around the U.S. and Canada. He was among 52 finalists in five age categories in the Southland competition
Miles is also this year’s Manteca Got Talent winner playing the piano and singing his heart out.
The Braille Challenge is akin to the National Spelling Bee for the blind and visually impaired where spelling, proof reading, reading comprehension and accuracy are tested not only in English text but also in Braille.
The contestants have to not only know the correct spelling of a word in the alphabet that the public can understand, but they have to be able to convert the words into contracted Braille. A series of six cells convert the alphabet into a medium the unsighted and visually impaired are able to read with their hands is the challenge. Braille has allowed Miles to participate in his main stream class at Woodward School where he is excelling.
Miles said he wants to have a “Hound Hotel” as he calls it when he is older so he can be around his animal friends. But he is planning on so much traveling that he might not have the necessary time to devote to the animals.
“I love traveling and to look up flight schedules all the time because of the geography involved,” Miles said. “When I was two, I started memorizing state capitals and interstate highways.”.
Miles said he also does a lot of mapping, using Google Maps in the process. His dad Kenny explained that he mapping app allows Miles to visualize the maps with a “voice over” selection so he can speak to the technology and have a tech in turn speak to him.
The 8-year-old has already won awards in math and reading.
His dad, Kenny Lima, is a consultant for IBM. He has been able to work often from home and on weekends caring for his son and guiding him in his formative educational years.
Miles lost his vision at age 4 before entering the school system from what was described as Retina Blastoma cancer. An experimental treatment took his sight, according to his father. Treatments started at University of California San Francisco, and then to Stanford and then to New York’s Sloan Kettering Hospital. The treatment caused a detached retina.
The senior Lima said that restoration of his son’s sight in the future is a slim possibility. He added that his son has already proven his grit to succeed. There are few questions he can’t answer and he has a memory second to none at his age.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email email@example.com.