Busta’s Person of the Week: ‘I’d rather be blind, because it made me a better person’

Busta’s Person of the Week: ‘I’d rather be blind, because it made me a better person’
September 30
14:44 2020

By Busta Brown

During a dispute at the age of 18, Roderick Wilson was shot in the face and at that moment his life changed forever. He’s become a true example of humility. “I have to be honest with you. If I had to do it all over again, from day one when I got shot, I’d rather be blind, because it made me a better man. Being blind taught me to think more consciously about someone other than myself,” said Roderick. He continued, “At this point in my life, anything I do, I always think about how it will affect someone else.”

Although the incident left him permanently blind, he became a vision of love to his sister. “My birthday is on Dec. 4, I was shot on Dec. 12, and was released from the hospital on Dec. 20, which is my sister’s birthday. This was over 30 years ago, and she still says happy birthday to my best gift ever,” he said while laughing with joy. “Because of that, my sister and I have developed a very close bond.”

Roderick and the gunman were only 15 feet apart when he was struck in the face by one of multiple bullets, and he was proud to share how blessed he is to be alive. “The doctors were wondering how did I live through that night. It was my grandfather. He’s been deceased for several years, but when I was shot, I could see my grandfather standing there in his suit. God takes care of fools and babies, and I was one those fools at that time, and he looked after me. Not once but twice. I had a good life, my parents raised us well, and were great providers. We always got what we needed, but my brothers and I wanted more, so we got caught up into the street life,” Roderick said. 

Eventually that lifestyle and the company he kept landed him in prison. “I was in the car with two guys that actually committed a robbery and an assault on a store clerk. The three of us were sentenced to 32 years a piece, but we were sentenced under the Fair Sentencing Act. Our time was cut in half, and I did 11 out of the 16 years. I was released on Feb. 20, 2004.”

Now 26 years old, during a visit with a social worker, he received some advice that shifted his life in a positive direction. It was the beginning of the phenomenal man I had the honor of interviewing. He’s intelligent, brave, funny, thoughtful and kind. Roderick is spiritually, physically and mentally strong and extremely hardworking. He’s proven that there’s strength in softness. Roderick doesn’t see himself as a victim, nor does he want you to, either.

Failure is not an option, so when the social worker suggested he get his GED, he not only took her advice, he passed with flying colors. 

“I passed the first time, and that’s rare, and I scored a 230. I also went to Hadley Institution for The Blind and the first class I took I received a B+ in Personal Psychology and an A+ in Abacus. At the end of my three years in the Industries for the Blind work release program, I was blessed to get hired. In 2009 I was awarded Employee of the Year,” he said with pride. 

He made a decision to keep moving forward and to this day, he hasn’t looked back. What’s most inspiring about Roderick is, there have been no regrets or excuses, just an amazing testimony. “I’ve always had the urge to mentor at-risk youth, because I was their story. I believe 80% of the prison population is in because they made a mistake, and the other 20% are the hard criminals. The rest of them made mistakes and got caught up. And I refused to be a part of guys going back and forth to prison, and my reason for mentoring youth is to keep them from being a part of that statistic as well. So, I had to do something to change my life, so I can be a living example to young people and a better man for my family.” 

Things were looking up for Roderick Wilson, and then in 2020 he experienced most everyone’s greatest fear. He contracted COVID-19. He lost his sense of taste and smell, had excruciating headaches, body aches, and could barely walk. Rod wasn’t able to feed himself and struggled to get out of bed. But his sisters, Tanisha and Yolanda, came to his rescue. “They cooked for me, fed me, and everything else I needed. They were at my house every day, several times a day, reminding me when it was time to eat and drink, and they would spray Lysol and wipe everything down before they left. I couldn’t have made it without them. 

“But, being blind with COVID-19 was tough, because the CDC tells us to avoid touching anything as much as possible to prevent contracting or spreading COVID-19. But touching is extremely important for us, so that made things even more difficult. But with God and the support of my sisters, I got through it,” he said. “The coronavirus is like the flu on steroids.” Rod joked. 

While he was sharing his battle with COVID-19, I couldn’t help but think: while he’s in quarantine for 14 days, there’s no income coming in, but the bills are. So I asked, how did you survive financially? Rod became very emotional as he explained, “Industries For The Blind has a program called The People First Fund. They took care of me, along with 560 others. They helped pay my bills and all of my other financial needs. And I didn’t have to use my vacation time. IFB paid for that as well. 

“I want to thank all of the donors of The People First Fund, because without their donations, the blind and visually impaired people would not have this much-needed relief. The government checks that we get are immediately spent on our living expenses. And if you have a child as well, it’s even more stressful. So, the program relives the stress and we can focus on getting better, because you can’t heal if you’re stressed. Thanks again to all the donors, and thanks in advance to the future donors.”

At the end of the interview, IFB PR specialist Laura Burrows shared some warm and inspiring words about Rod. “He is such an inspiration, and he’s what’s right in this world. We need more people like Rod in today’s world.” And then she looked into his eyes and said, “You’re amazing!” My heart became even more full. 

What a phenomenal man and program. I also have to give a big thank to Nicole Ducouer, IFB senior director of corporate communications. You’re doing an amazing job and I’m proud to call you a dear friend. 

If you’re not already a donor to The People First Fund, please visit for more information on how to support this worthy cause, or call 336-245-5615. 

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