It was an honest mistake, but I still felt horrible.

Recently, I was home hanging out with my boys. Baseball was on TV in the background. During the ceremonial first pitch, the woman “pitched” the ball from the mound into orbit. I mean, she missed the catcher by 30 feet.

My boys and I were cracking up-

-until I watched the replay and listened to the announcers say that she was almost fully blind…

…and deaf.

Ouch. I felt terrible for laughing once I learned her backstory.

The woman was born with a rare genetic disorder called Usher Syndrome Type III. She has been simultaneously losing both her sight and hearing since she was a teenager.

Doctors said she was supposed to be fully blind by 30. Now in her 30s, her sight is reduced to about 10%, and her field of vision is about the width of a straw.

Turns out we weren’t the only jerks watching. Those in the crowd who booed her errant throw proved they were ignorant of the context, too.

She looked devastated after she was told where the ball went. That just made me feel even more terrible.

Especially since her condition hits close to home for me.

On November 11, 2015, my five-year-old son, Jaxon, was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma, a rare form of cancer that affects the eye.

Five days later, surgeons removed his left eye to save his life.

My family and I are so blessed to be able to say that he is now in good health. Jaxon continues to live his life with vigor, a testament to his indomitable spirit.

So I did some more research on the woman, named Rebecca. In addition to being a licensed social worker, she has a Master’s Degree, is a psychotherapist, an author, a fitness instructor, a fitness brand ambassador, and an extreme athlete. Clearly she didn’t let her physical challenges limit her.

Her courage and perseverance led her to the mound at Yankee Stadium where she was able to raise awareness for Usher Syndrome to the thousands in attendance and many more watching at home.

My faux pas is a prime example of why knowing your audience is so important. A wild pitch, normally funny, became a point of inspiration for many, particularly those in the special needs community.

You need to be able to communicate your story to the market. But first, you need to get inside the head of those you want to reach. To do that requires a great deal of skill.

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