FWBC grad writes book after going blind

By Andrea (Matetic) Osmun g05 Published: May 18, 2017

Shaw's cover of new book

After losing his sight from diabetes, Allen Shaw g81 not only gained a love for writing that he never knew he had, but he found purpose amid his challenges. He recently self-published his first children’s book, Brainstorms! A Cave, A Stream, and A Grandpa That Dreams.

            Allen was a music major, and after he graduated, he taught music at a local high school. Some years later, he lost his teaching job due to cutbacks and was forced to return to substitute teaching. Since this wasn’t adequate for his family needs at the time, he took a job at Triple Crown, a trucking rail company, and worked there for 24 years until he lost his vision in 2013.

            Since Allen discovered he had Type 1 Diabetes 25 or 30 years ago, his vision has been declining. For years, he was able to treat his eye problems with laser treatments, but four years ago he lost his vision entirely.

            “I’ve gotten some of it back since then,” he said, “but I can’t drive, and I can’t see with my left eye. I have been able to babysit my granddaughters and do this writing thing, which has been really exciting. I’ve written numerous stories.”

            A friend of Allen’s encouraged him to start writing when he could no longer work, due to his vision loss.

            “I’ve always done some poetic things, especially with our Christmas letter,” he said. “My friend asked me to write something for my own amusement, and that’s when I got more serious.”

            Allen joined Kayleen Reusser’s fs82 writers’ group, which meets in the Fort Wayne area. He attended a writers’ conference. He had been writing children’s stories but was struggling to find an illustrator. At the writers’ conference, he discovered Fiverr.com, and he began earning small paychecks for writing everything from wedding proposals to blog posts. When he had earned enough money, he hired an illustrator through the website.

            His children’s book, Brainstorms! A Cave, A Stream, and A Grandpa That Dreams, is available through Amazon in paperback or Kindle e-book. The story is about a grandfather who takes his grandson on an adventure through his imagination to a cave, a stream, and a desert.

            “I wrote it to show kids that they don’t need a cell phone or tablet to have fun,” Allen said.

            Despite his recent challenges, Allen acknowledges God’s grace in his life. “God has still blessed us tremendously,” he said. “It’s just been since December that I’ve gotten really excited about writing. All the time I’m sitting here, even though I have disability coming in, I can do something. I’m not talking about thousands of dollars, but I paid for our vacation and published my first book. I feel a lot better about myself.”

Editor’s Note: ABC 21 did a story on Allen’s blindness and his books. Click here to watch.

            Allen has been married to Deb (Lehman g80) since Aug. 14, 1982, and they have three children and four grandchildren. Deb worked on the Fort Wayne campus in the Office of Advancement, then as the music department secretary, and finally in the Department of Development until 2009. She now works with alumnus Gary Ringenberg g79 as an insurance agent with Summit Ridge Insurance Agency, in Fort Wayne.