Don Katz dreamed of a career in the culinary arts. After attaining a bachelor’s degree in hospitality and management, he moved to New York City in order to pursue a master’s degree in food studies.
His dreams came to a halt at 25 when he went to the emergency room complaining of a persistent and painful headache. Katz was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and underwent emergency surgery that put him in a coma for more than a month.
When he woke up, his life was changed forever.
“What’s going to happen with the rest of my life? Where is it going to be?” he remembered asking. “It was very dark days, for sure.”
In the latest episode of "LA Stories with Giselle Fernandez," Katz opens up about life after his fight against bacterial meningitis.
He woke up from his coma blind and paralyzed. With months of therapy, he was able to walk again, but the experience left him permanently blind. While he tried to get back into the culinary arts, he found his sightlessness made it too difficult.
Unsure what to do next, Katz took a pottery class at the Braille Institute in Los Angeles — and his life was once again forever changed.
“You will never stop learning with clay,” he said. “It’s all I want to do.”
Today, despite his inability to see, Katz creates beautiful and functional pottery, which he sells online and in stores. He’s taken part in artist exhibitions, such as the Art of Disability Culture.
While he could have easily given up on pursuing a career path, Katz was determined to not let his blindness stop him. He hopes to inspire others with disabilities to not let challenges stop them from doing what they love.
“Be yourself," he said. "I think the more people see us out and about doing and living, the less the stigma and the ignorance or the nervousness will go away.”
Watch "LA Stories with Giselle Fernandez" at 9 p.m. every Monday on Spectrum News 1.