STANLY, NC (WBTV) - The idea of trying to fix a lawnmower engine doesn't sound like a good time to most, but for Gerald Thomas, it's his passion. The 53-year-old Locust man does it without the aid of eyesight.
"It's like I can see everything in my head and it may not look nothing like it does on the table, but that's how I see it in my head," Gerald said.
At his shop, Charlie's Lawnmower Repair in Stanly County, Gerald fixes all kinds of engines. Thursday morning we found him working on re-building the carburetor from an auger motor.
"This is definitely a little frustrating," Gerald said while feeling around on a table in front of him for one of dozens of tiny screws. But the tedious chore of taking things apart and putting them back together, Gerald calls a blessing.
"I feel like I'm blessed that God gave me a gift, that I've got something that I can do," Gerald said.
At two years old Gerald's grandfather discovered Gerald would feel around on the floor for toys instead of going directly to them. Doctors discovered he was born with cataracts.
Surgery helped him have limited vision but later in life, glaucoma completely stole his eyesight.
Now, in a world of darkness, Gerald gets along just fine doing what makes him happy. And he's a natural inspiration for others.
His niece Erica Smith works with him and says her Uncle has taught her about patience, "He'll just have a whole pile of stuff and he'll just sit there and feel until he finds the one he's looking for," Erica said.
Gerald's grandfather taught him everything he knows about engines. He taught him so well that now, Gerald doesn't need eyesight to know the parts like the back of his hand.
With a smile and a chuckle Gerald pulls the cord to start the auger he's been working on. With a putt and a sputter, it fires up right away.