Blinded in shooting, York City man overcomes fear to rappel down side of a building

Anthony Maenza
York Dispatch

Reggie Taylor let out a loud "whoop" after his feet hit the ground. 

He had just rappelled down the side of the 10-story Holiday Inn in downtown Lancaster Friday as one of many who were a part the VisionCorps' Eyedrop 2022, a rappelling event the nonprofit uses as a fundraiser.

He zipped down the side of the building like an old pro.

The York City man had never done anything like that in his 55 years.

"It's cool," Taylor said. "I want to do it again. I'm going to do it again. I like that. Once that adrenaline kicks in, that's it. I like it."

Volunteer, Jim Eichelberger, on left, and Stacie Doan, an occupational therapist, helping York resident Reginald Taylor after he repelled down the side of the Holiday Inn as part of the Eye Drop event in Lancaster, Pa on Friday, June 10, 2022.

The rush of joy after achieving the feat is something Taylor could not have fathomed six years ago. 

That's when a gunshot left him blind.

"I stayed over at a friend's house," Taylor said, "and I came out to my truck to go to work. The next thing you know, I saw a flash. When I saw the flash, that's basically all I remember. Next thing you know, when I woke up at the hospital, I thought there was a patch over my eyes, but I could not see. I was totally blind."

The trauma he suffered left him in a bad place mentally.

"I went through a little mental anguish," Taylor said. "Why did it happen to me? Why me? Stuff like that. The doctors didn't tell me I was going to be blind until a few weeks after the fact."

Doctors still had hope of him regaining some sight after an infection cleared up and the metal pellets were removed, he said, but it didn't happen.

It wasn't until 2017, a year after the shooting, that VisionCorps came into his life. The organization helps empower people who are blind or vision impaired to attain independence by providing them with the tools and training. It does so at no cost to the participants.

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"That's when I started my really true journey," Taylor said. "VisionCorps is where you can find people you can talk to. They don't look down on you. They got me into training. Reading books. They've got me walking with the walking cane and taught me how to read Braille."

His wife, GeGe, had found out about the organization and they reached out.

"I was going through a rough time in my life," Taylor said. "I was basically lost. One morning you wake up with your eyesight and a couple of hours later you don't have your eyesight."

Taylor said the best thing about VisionCorps is there are people to talk to and understand what he is going through.

"I love my group," he said. "Group chat is when everyone that has low vision or they are down to totally blind, like me. We are all a big family. Brothers and sisters, no matter how old they are or young they are. Everyone understands each other."

The group allows him to help someone who may be slowly losing their sight understand what life without sight will be like.

"God dealt us this hand, so we just have to deal with it. I tell them to not get discouraged," Taylor said.

Being able to help someone else, helps him, he said.

"I had a bumpy road," Taylor said. "Now, I say I can help someone like they helped me."

Taylor was looking for another way to give back to VisionCorps for helping him adjust to life without sight.

"I asked, them, 'Hey, when is the next thing you're having so I can give back something,'" he said. "You helped me how to read braille. You're teaching me how to walk with the white cane and basically be self sufficient."

That's how he found out about EyeDrop and came to zipping down the side of the 10-story building.

"I didn't have the money, but I had the time," Taylor said. "I told them as much as they have donated their time to me, I can donate my time to y'all."

He didn't really get scared until he got up on the roof to get ready to come down.

"My knees started to shake and I started tip toeing," Taylor said.

He got some training on how to sit in the harness and how to use it as he made his way down, but it wasn't hard to figure out at all, he said.

"It conquers your fear of heights, and I am scared of heights," Taylor said. "Hey, (if) I did it then anybody can do it."

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His mother, Gwen, was on hand to watch his feat.

"It makes me proud, him doing this," Gwen Taylor said. "Some kids and adults, they would not try this."

The experience was so good, Reggie Taylor is looking forward to doing it again next year to help others who are vision impaired.

"This is the blind community and I am happy to be a part of it," he said.

— Reach Anthony Maenza at or @atmaenza on Twitter.