LOUISVILLE, Ky. — At the age of one year old, Darren Harbour wore his first pair of glasses.
Over time, the glasses got thicker, the frames turned into bifocals, and by the time he was 11 years old, his vision took a turn for the worse, going from limited to legally blind.
What You Need To Know
- Harbour was born with a degenerative eye condition
- He is an actor, dancer, model, stand-up comedian and massage therapist
- Harbour created a theater company that’s accessible to people living with blindness and visual impairments
- He will be launching a podcast to discuss obstacles visually impaired individuals face
While doctors said his eyesight won’t improve, he chose to focus on his passion for performing. A love he discovered when he was in kindergarten.
Harbour is a massage therapist by day, but he spent most of his life acting, dancing, modeling and doing stand-up comedy.
“I did these activities because I wanted to see what was really going on, and the only way for me to see it was by getting my hands dirty and figuring it out,” said Harbour.
Harbour started Imagine Blind Players Incorporated, a theater company accessible to people living with blindness to create and enjoy imagination beyond sight.
“The idea was to perform traditional theater like everybody else and not be confined to sitting in seats. We want to move around, we want to invoke body language and facial expressions and express that on stage just like anybody else,” said Harbour.
He recently made his debut in the wrestling ring, switching off the stage lights for fight nights.
In the rings, he is better known as the Inspirer.
“The Inspirer, this guy here, he doesn’t mind putting his dukes up and ready to rumble in the ring with anybody. He doesn’t know who his opponent is, and it really doesn’t matter because they better get ready to look, listen and feel me,” said Harbour.
While rolling with the punches during a match, he was reminded of obstacles he faces outside of the ring.
“The cruelty that came out of this man’s mouth echoed many of the cruelties, the disrespect, the inclusiveness, the inaccessibility that I've faced throughout my life as someone who is blind trying to fit into a sighted world,” said Harbour. "With every strike on my back, when he put my cane around my back and choked me out because blindness and depression can feel like you’re being suffocated."
That feeling of defeat left Harbour on the ropes.
“It hurt when I didn't get to do a play because of my disability, when someone didn’t let me travel out of town because of them thinking I needed a caretaker, when a job turned me down because they thought they didn’t have anything for me to do,” said Harbour.
Harbour has no plans to throw in the towel when it comes to advocating for opportunities for people with disabilities.
“I want to open the minds of blind people all over the world that you are not limited to your disability because this world has a lack of accessibility,” said Harbour.
He is launching a podcast to share the journey of Imagine Blind Players and to give people living with visual impairment a platform to discuss issues they are facing and fighting for.
“Someone’s gotta fight for it and the Inspirer does not mind a good fight because I walk by faith and not by sight,” said Harbour.
You’ll be able to tune in to the Imagine Blind Players podcast in July.