Shane was born in Los Angeles, CA on October 25th, 2000.
He was five weeks early and stayed in the NICU for five days. When his parents, Dawn and Joe, brought Shane home, they noticed that he appeared to be uncomfortable. After multiple trips to the pediatrician and several tests, Shane was admitted to the hospital in December 2000. The first night in the hospital a nurse came in to check on Shane, this is when they discovered he had an issue with his eyes. The room was dark, so the nurse shined a small flashlight on Shane so not to wake him. Shane opened his eyes and they did not reflect red or white. It was if you could look directly through his eyes. The nurse set up an appointment the following day to see an ophthalmologist.
The ophthalmologist immediately saw a mass in both of Shane’s eyes.
Shane underwent an MRI that very same day which confirmed what the ophthalmologist suspected. He was diagnosed with bilateral Retinoblastoma, cancer of the retina. Right away, Shane’s family was referred to Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and Dr. Linn Murphree. Shane had both of his eyes enucleated on December 26th 2000.
After the surgery, Dawn and Joe noticed an immediate difference in Shane.
His eyes were no longer causing him pain and he was able to relax. His parents were nervous about his future and did not have any idea how to raise a blind child so they did not focus on his blindness and the things he could not do, but decided to focus on things he could and liked to do.
A few months after the surgery, the doctors recommended a chemotherapy regimen for Shane.
The pathology from the surgery had come back and they felt it was warranted to make sure he did not have a recurrence of cancer anywhere else in his body. These months of chemotherapy were very rough on the family but once again Shane proved to be a fighter. He had his last chemotherapy treatment around his first birthday; they were ready to put the year behind them and start Shane’s next chapter.
Shane received early intervention from Braille Institute of America and then transitioned to the Los Angeles United School District. He went to a VI preschool and in kindergarten he was mainstreamed into classes where he was the only completely blind student all the way though elementary, middle and high school.
In December 2018, Shane received the Stevie Wonder Star Student Award at the Wayfinder (formally Junior Blind) holiday party.
Shane has applied to multiple colleges and is looking forward to college life.
While Shane’s personal and academic achievements are quite remarkable, he has another talent that is equally impressive! When Shane was only two years old, his family visited friends who owned a piano. Shane was interested and played with the piano all night long. His parents wanted to help direct and encourage Shane’s new interest in making music and immediately went out and purchased a few different toy keyboards. One of these keyboards was the type that would play itself as well as let the child play. Shane listened to the songs played by the keyboard and quickly learned to play them. They were amazed by his musical ability and enrolled him in piano lessons when he was 3 years old. By the age of five, Shane was proficient at playing by ear. He performed in recitals and his piano teacher told the family that Shane had perfect pitch.
Over the next few years, Shane taught himself to play multiple instruments including the guitar, harp, flute, saxophone, harmonica, and accordion! His mother says there is not an instrument that Shane is not able to master. Shane will tell you that his favorite instruments are the keyboard and guitar.
A few years ago, Shane started writing his own music.
He spent hours developing the vocals and instrumentals to accompany them. Recently, Shane has compiled this work and released his first self-titled album, Shane Rider. This album is comprised of eight original songs, all but one completely written by Shane himself. The one collaboration is a song co-written with his great-uncle, Ken Vogtsberger. Shane performs the vocals and plays all of the instruments except for the drums. He says the sound of the album is completely new.
We are thrilled to share Shane’s music with all of you. He is truly an inspiration, and a rising star. Please take the time to check out his remarkable new release on iTunes under Shane Rider.
Story Update: “Shane was accepted to California State University Northridge and started taking classes last fall. At the same time he moved into the dorms at CSUN. This was a huge transition from high school and living at home, but it has been a great learning experience. Of course, Shane brought his guitar with him and has continued to write music.
Shane still enjoys performing as has been asked to play at “The Canyon” as an opening act. He has also played at the Agua Dulce Winery and a few restaurants around Los Angeles.”