George to the Rescue Helps Blind Teenage Swimmer - NBC New York

George to the Rescue Helps Blind Teenage Swimmer

'I want to live a normal life. I don’t want my disability to stop me in any way'

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    How to Choose Your Organization for Giving Tuesday
    George to the Rescue
    Fifteen year old Anastasia Pagonis, a lifelong swimmer who struggled with vision impairment for most of her life, won’t let complete vision loss stop her from achieving her dreams. George to the Rescue host George Oliphant manages a home renovation project for the future Paralympian.

    Fifteen year-old Anastasia Pagonis’ vision impairment has progressively worsened over the years. In 2018, she lost her vision, but she did not let that stop her zest for life. She turned to what she knew best and loved --- swimming.

    Pagonis’ passion for swimming developed as she battled vision decline between the ages of five and 15 during therapy. Now, she’s almost completely blind.

    “I want to live a normal life. I don’t want my disability to stop me in any way,” Pagonis said.

    George to the Rescue host George Oliphant was moved by Pagonis' story and wanted to help make life easier for Pagonis, also known as Tas.

    “We want to surprise Tas with a life-changing rescue that will give her the independence and comfort she deserves,” said Oliphant. "Now usually on the rescue we like to the change the layout. But, I think in this house it's important to keep it the same because that's what Tas knows."

    The George to the Rescue crew renovated her family home in Floral Park, Long Island with a new tactile bathroom, bedroom makeover, light sensitivity windows and an endless swimming pool to make it easier for Pagonis to train for the Paralympics and navigate her home while managing vision loss.

    Pagonis hopes to inspire others who are visually impaired and face their own personal challenges. She is currently training for the 2020 Paralympics. 

    To help keep her inspired, Oliphant introduced Pagonis to her idol Molly Burke, a blind YouTuber.

    "It's mindblowing... You helped me with so much with everything," Pagonis said to Burke.

    Oliphant showed the Pagonis family their newly renovated home with dim lighting, tacticle details, sensory decorations and an endless pool built into their garage with custom storage. 

    "I feel independent. I feel like I don't have to ask someone to come help me all the time and I'm so excited to go take a bath," Pagonis said. 

    Watch this George to the Rescue 10th anniversary episode and watch the Pagonis family home transformation.