Here on the Echo blog, we’ve been posting some cool stuff about some of the latest news in mobile and tech. We’ve also talked about events we host and products we develop. But if you’ve ever visited our offices, you know we’re not robots just turning out amazingness.
We thrive on diversity. We have people of all backgrounds creating, developing, designing, negotiating, smiling, laughing, and just being cool people. And coming up we’re going to start featuring our awesome crew.
First up, we’d like to feature one of the newest members of the team—some crazy guy and his dog that our CEO and founder, Carlos Carbonell, scraped off the bottom of the downtown YMCA pool.
Kyle Coon joined the Echo team at the beginning of February 2015. A graduate of the University of Central Florida, Kyle has his degree in Communication and is Echo’s Copywriter and Content Coordinator. As such, Kyle’s responsible for creating content for the blog, website and various social media platforms.
When Kyle was ten months old, he was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer—Bilateral sporadic retinoblastoma. He underwent intensive treatment which eventually led to the removal of his eyes at ages five and six, thereby leaving him totally blind.
After losing his sight, Kyle met world-class blind athlete Erik Weihenmayer, who encouraged him to live his life to the fullest. His encouragement and friendship helped Kyle learn how to step outside his comfort zone and try new things.
Kyle started rock climbing when he was eight years old. This led to his passion for outdoor adventure sports including: hiking, mountaineering, canoeing, and triathlons. In 2006, Kyle hiked the Ankascocha Trail into Machu Picchu. In 2007, he climbed and summitted Mt. Kilimanjaro—the tallest mountain in Africa. He has also canoed the entire Suwannee River—246 miles from Fargo, Ga to the Gulf of Mexico. And this past January he completed the Goofy Challenge, running the Walt Disney World® Half Marathon and Marathon in back-to-back days.
Kyle is often asked to speak to organizations about living a life without limits, and his experiences as a totally blind athlete and cancer survivor. He has also been featured in the local and national media. In 2003, Kyle appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show as a surprise guest to Erik Weihenmayer. His trek of the Ankascocha Trail in 2006 was also featured on both ABC World News and ABC Nightline. More recently, he’s made appearances on Central Florida News13, MyFox35 and Emotional Mojo.
Carlos and Kyle were connected through a mutual friend and triathlete—Dr. Michael Melton. The two first met during a swim workout, during which Carlos swam like a fish and Kyle a log. Afterward, Carlos took Mike and Kyle on a tour of the Echo offices. After learning about Kyle’s background as a writer and motivational speaker, Carlos asked Kyle to come aboard to help in creating search engine optimized web content.
And along with Kyle came his four legged furry friend, Tyrone. Tyrone is a Seeing Eye® dog born and bred to be a guide. At seven years old, this golden retriever has been guiding Kyle for nearly six years. His fluffy golden head and wagging tail are a sight to see as he chills at Kyle’s work station. Although his happy-go-lucky playfulness doesn’t compare to the times he falls asleep and occasionally let’s out a bark or growl—is he chasing bunny rabbits, or dreaming of a line of code that just won’t cooperate?
Even though it’s incredibly difficult, we here at Echo can’t pet or play with Tyrone when he’s wearing his harness. This is because Tyrone’s a working dog and interacting with him while he’s in harness distracts him from his job. (There’s a rumor that Kyle will let Tyrone out of harness one day at work so we can all get our chance to see him in play mode…But that’s just a rumor.)
As a person who is totally blind, Kyle has derived a great deal of independence from his use of technology. He uses a screenreading software called JAWS for Windows on his computer, and his Apple iPhone and iPad are never far from reach. He’s always seeking to learn more about accessible technology and how it can be further used and developed.
Although he didn’t come from a tech background, Kyle’s embraced learning this new language and culture. Keep an eye out as Kyle will probably start attending some of our meetups before long.