Taking children to events, the park, or just simple walks down the street are some of the favorite and easy activity many dads enjoy doing with their children. However, for Martin Ralfe and his one-year-old boy Leo, it is a real challenge but they do it despite the odds.
Martin was born blind and Leo was diagnosed with cataracts at an early age which have been removed but he has since been diagnosed with nystagmus and the family is waiting for further results. Martin doesn’t see their impairment as an obstacle but asserts they just have to do extra planning before going on their favorite trips outside of their home in St Helens, Merseyside, England.
The admirable 29-year-old parent has shown great ability in his disability by refusing to let his lack of sight stop him from hanging out with his son and exploring. He created a frenzy on TikTok and went viral after showing how they go out for the day, with help from his guide dog Diesel.
Martin gained thousands of followers on his account and is using it to educate other people about visual impairment and how he doesn’t let it impact his relationship with his family.
Martin who has been branded by people as “an inspiration” says his wife, Samantha, 31, was the one that encouraged him to take their son out although neither of them expected big reaction to the clips they posted online.
Martin admits he had initial reservations at first about taking Leo out on his own but now he is confident and spends most weekend’s exploring with his son and Diesel.
According to him “Leo and I always spend our weekends together exploring the world together. It’s so important Leo gets out to experience the world!
“It’s all on Diesel and I have complete trust in my guide dog. I also heavily rely on muscle memory to be able to take myself and Leo on a walk.”
He continued “I would never decide to take Daniel unless I’ve done the route myself at least a few times, especially in recent times when the weather nettles have grown out further. I need to check for things like that.”
“At first I thought a pram would be safer for Leo but that is actually harder for someone who is blind so we went with the carrier. He is constantly smiling and laughing while he’s in it.”
“Our favorite activities together include going for walks and when we do, we love to feed the ducks – it’s a must! However, we also love going out to explore on the train, especially to Sankey Valley Park. Currently on our bucket list is to visit classic places like Disney Land but Leo is particularly interested in trains too so we’d love to go to the National Railway Museum in York.”
“Leo can definitely see colors and shapes, at the moment, his glasses are magnified at like times 27 so that’s definitely helping him more. Me and Leo are a little duo together and I definitely think because of my own diagnosis I can give him the extra support he needs. I think that’s because I understand what it’s like and what he’s going through. For example, a tantrum may not be a tantrum, he could be frustrated or upset because of eye pain. He’s definitely learned so much already and I’ve learned so much from him, plus people say we look alike – poor bugger!” he concluded.
Martin’s TikTok account @martinralfe now has thousands of followers and has a range of videos such as him walking Diesel and Leo, how to train and care for guide dogs, and many videos of him answering questions from his followers.
The videos of him and Leo out together always evoke a heartwarming reaction from his followers, as well as some hilarious comments.
Martin is also part of a podcast called the Blind Dad Diaries where he and another father discuss how they raised their parenting hacks.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” – Psalm 23:4.
Marta Sendile loves writing and sharing inspirational stories.