Adam Kroelinger

Adam Kroelinger, 78, of Vineland, lives independently and walks a lot for exercise, even though he is blind. He even went skiing for the first time at age 70 with a group that helps visually impaired people enjoy outdoor adventures.

Adam Kroelinger, 78, of Vineland, doesn’t let his blindness keep him from adventure vacations.

At age 70, he joined Ski for Light, a group that provides one-to-one assistance to visually impaired people, on a cross-country skiing trek at the Alyeska resort in Alaska.

It was the first time he had ever skied, said the former truck driver whose vision deteriorated in his late 50s. He now sees only shadows.

At 71, he went mountain climbing in Colorado with another branch of Ski for Light. For a week, he and about 10 other visually impaired people, along with guides as partners, climbed to 10,000 feet. They camped out, carrying their own supplies and preparing their own food, said Kroelinger’s sister Janice Heck, of Mays Landing, who added that his bravery inspires her.

Kroelinger lives alone in a condo, attends monthly meetings of the Cumberland County Disabilities Awareness Group and goes to the Margaret Winchester Enrichment Center for the Blind in Bridgeton. He finds his way to his doctor appointments in Philadelphia on his own and likes to walk for exercise.

He likes to joke about wanting to take a turn driving and teases Heck that he sees weeds in her yard, Heck said.

“He has a major disability, but he is not handicapped,” Heck said. “With a big brother like Adam, you’ve just got to keep going. (There is) no time for a self-pity party. You can’t just sit still and mope.”

Hosting duties

After 37 years of being a hostess for contestants in the Miss New Jersey pageant, Barbara Casarow was matched with a second-generation contestant, Kaitlyn Schoeffel, 19, of Egg Harbor Township, whose mom Casarow also chaperoned about 20 years ago.

Schoeffel was Miss Avalon and first runner-up in this year’s state pageant. Casarow had also been the hostess for Schoeffel’s mom, Margot (Janowski) Schoeffel.

“I had her mother in the Miss Cumberland County pageant and took her as hostess to Miss New Jersey,” said Casarow, 71, of Upper Deerfield Township. Casarow was a pageant contestant as a young woman in West Virginia.

She and Margot Schoeffel had stayed friends ever since. Casarow knew Kaitlyn, who is studying broadcast communications at Montclair State University in Essex County, was coming up in pageants. Kaitlyn Schoeffel was Miss New Jersey National Teenager in 2009.

“But I didn’t know I’d be her hostess,” Casarow said.

Everyone Has a Story appears Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays.

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