The Blind Baker

By Glen Fahs, PhD

Often we look at a disabled artist or athletic star who have had to overcome great barriers and wish we were so amazing. Sometimes that special person is someone just down the street from us who refuses to be dependent. One such bright light is Carlna Comer who had a brain tumor when she was a baby that left her blind in one eye and sight-impaired in the other. When the tumor returned at age 7, her parents kept their rage and resentment private, and never allowed their daughter to wallow in self-pity. (See Oregonian 5/20/2018, Hallman at Large).

At seven, she had to travel weekly out of state to a hospital for radiation treatments. There nurses shared gifts with young patients donated by schoolchildren and their families.

As early as second grade, Carlna loved cooking with her mother. She could find and measure ingredients and learned to do more, step by step.

And she could care about kids still in the hospital. To repay the kindness shown her during her visits, she baked cookies and muffins to raise money for toys. Pedaling around her neighborhood on her tricycle, she sold the goodies, raising about $22,000 over ten years.

After a frustrating experience as a culinary school intern where staff relegated her to menial tasks, she got her MBA at Willamette University, and developed with friends a thorough business plan for a bakery. After finding people at Portland's Saturday Market really liked her baked goods, she went into business. She now has five employees, three who are sight-impaired.

Her day starts at 4 a.m. and some days goes late into the evening. She can expand bills on a large computer screen to see with her functioning eye. At 27, with many responsibilities, she refuses to complain about the hard work. Hallman quotes her: “Perseverance and determination,” she said with a smile, “Those traits run deep in my family.”

While most of us will admire Carlna for her motivation and commitment to giving back, let's not lose sight of the many on her journey who kept her going. Her parents. The nurses. The schoolchildren. Her teachers. Her friends. Her customers. The National Federation of the Blind who helped her find workers.

None of us succeed alone. All of us can help others believe in themselves and find a path to success.


Glen Fahs, PhD, has been a coach and leader for decades in the fields of training, resiliency, continuing education, change and transition. He has high-level training experience in government, nonprofit and the private sector and has taught for 12 colleges and universities. He has served on several boards, including currently on the Al Siebert Resiliency Center board. If you would like a resiliency coach, speaker or trainer, call Glen at 971-570-0159. To become certified for resiliency work, please see the guidelines on the Al Siebert Resiliency Center website: ResiliencyCenter.com.

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