About The Founder
"Out of the Muck Grows Lilies" is the motto behind Geri Taecken's personal journey through life. Her passion to share with others how to discover the beauty which comes from decaying situations has brought her to creating the Iris Seemore Animal Health Fund.
After discovering she had Retinitis Pigmentosa at age seven, Geri made it her mission to deny and avoid the horror of this condition. However, as her vision deteriorated for the next fifteen years, she could no longer hide the truth from herself or others. Feeling defeated and downhearted, she turned to less than honorable methods for surviving as a visually impaired person.
Struggling with depression and isolation, Geri discovered she possessed a talent for writing and creating music. She learned to play the guitar; releasing emotional pain through songs like "Blind Man's Bluff" and "Fading Colors."
With the support of family and friends and creative expression, eventually Geri's self-esteem improved, allowing her to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in special education from Eastern Michigan University in 1978. With the help of her first class of pre-school visually impaired children, she saw how accepting these young people were. With her growing vision loss, she decided it was time to be a more positive role model and utilize a white cane.
In 1980, Geri returned to school, obtaining a Masters in Social work degree from the University of Michigan. In 1982 she received her degree along with a brand new baby boy. Though Geri and her son were often missjudged as being an incapable family team, they continued to educate on-lookers that blindness had nothing to do with love and good parenting.
Continuing with her acquired mission to promote acceptance and pride in all people, including those with differences, Geri developed the art of public speaking while working as a social worker for the Center for Independent Living. Geri continued to learn about the beauty of life's challenges as she teamed up with other's with physical and mental characteristics different from the average individual.
According to Geri, "It is rather fortunate to be someone who can gain such pleasure from finding one's last quarter, dropped at a pay phone at the grocery store. It's something everyone should know. Though it takes some good listening skills, there is certainly an element of good luck involved when you don't have to feel too much of a rather dirty environment before finding the coin right off. Most folks have to win the lottery to feel so lucky."