Lighting Up the Darkness for 90-Year-Old Native of Bronx

Enrique Sanchez of The Bronx, New York is still one more veteran with vision loss who is constantly seeking and discovering new ways to “Light Up the Darkness,” the theme for the Blinded Veterans Association’s 2nd annual Charity Concert at the Richard J. Ernst Community Cultural Center in Annandale, Virginia, on March 28.

The special event on the Annandale campus of Northern Virginia Community College marks, to the very day, 75 years of BVA’s service to blinded veterans and their families.

Enrique, born in 1930, started his career in 1944 in the Merchant Marine as a Diesel Engineer before entering the United States Army ten years later in 1954. For him, serving in the Army and becoming a U.S. citizen helped him gain greater self-respect and self-esteem.

“Wherever I went on the job, these were the things that made me triumph and complete all my goals,” Enrique said.

One of the defeats Enrique turned into a triumph was dealing with blindness caused by bilateral papillitis, a condition in which the optic nerves become defrayed and they do not mend back. He credits the Blinded Veterans Association with helping him get through the initial stages of going blind.

“I was sponsored to attend the national convention in 1976 and have gone back every year ever since,” he said. “Becoming a member of the Blinded Veterans Association is one of the best things you can do.”

Enrique found the practical assistance to be particularly helpful to him. “VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) and BVA see to it that the blinded veteran has the necessary tools to work with, that he or she is well taken care of and never left alone.”

Truly Enrique Sanchez lives to “light up the darkness” in his own life and the lives of all who know him. He is still another blinded veteran who personifies the enduring spirit of the Blinded Veterans Association, now three quarters of a century strong, that will be so brightly on display on March 28. 

Delta Spur is a District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia group providing an energetic performance of fresh, modern county music. The group has entertained thousands at landmark venues like Horseshoe and Harrington Casinos, Bryce Mountain Ski Resort, and now at Northern Virginia Community College in support of programs aimed at enhancing the lives of blinded veterans such as Lonnie Bedwell.

A photo of Enrique Sanchez with his wife
Enrique Sanchez and his wife, Laura, take a break from meetings at the BVA 73rd National Convention in Sparks, Nevada. Enrique has attended more consecutive BVA National Conventions, 44 to be exact, than any other member of the organization.
Enrique with Ronald White and Enrique's son.
Left to right, former BVA National Officer and New York Regional Group Member Ronald White; Daniel Sanchez, son of Enrique; and Enrique Sanchez at BVA 72nd National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida.