Skating is challenging enough for those with 20/20 vision or even those who are near or far sighted, but imagine skating without any sight at all. Such is the case for Marshall Lee Ratliff who has been been taking lessons from Bill for nearly two years. His sister and caretaker, Diane Odom, said her 51-year-old brother was born blind and first learned to skate at the age of five.
“When he was very young, there was a group of ladies in Atlanta involved with some sort of sorority and they took it on themselves to take groups of children with disabilities to the skating rink,” Ms. Odom explained.
Both she and her brother are extremely pleased with the progress made since Marshall became Bill’s student. Ms. Odom adds the lessons are great therapy for her brother psychologically since his social life is not as active as those without disabilities.
“It has meant a tremendous amount for him to just interact with Mr. Butler, [who] doesn’t look  years old and doesn’t skate like that,” she told RST in a phone interview.
Bill’s sentiments are much the same toward the student in whose company he is honored to be. “I think [Marshall’s] extraordinary, courageous and special,” he said. “It’s inspirational just the fact that he wants to do this.”
Marshall is as excited about what he’s learning as he must have been as a child when putting on skates for the first time. When asked what he loves about skating, he shared that he is being taught the backwards plow, scissors and that he is ready to begin skating to music. He meets Bill twice a week at Skate Zone in Morrow, Georgia for his beloved skating lessons.
The goal-oriented Marshall wants to be the best skater he can be and also keeps busy defying the odds with tap dancing lessons, horseback riding and playing the drums.
For more information, read RST’s News Release sent to various media outlets to invite them to share this inspirational story with their audiences.