Blind CSI investigator honored by TV counterparts in Marin

I so enjoy seeing articles about people with a CAN DO attitude!  I have been bothered the last couple of days by some of the work offered to people with disabilities.  Why are expectations so low?  Why are so many proud of giving minimum wages to those with disabilities instead of finding the talents and paying them a comparable wage?  It is not just people with disabilities, so many settle for the least amount of work they can do, or the least amount of effort instead of striving for more.  It’s just been on my heart. 

So, when I read this article this morning it was so refreshing.  I wanted to share.

Two stars from the CBS TV series “CSI:Miami” honored a real life CSI investigator who lost her sight six months into a new job with a police crime lab, telling a graduation day audience at Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael on Saturday that she couldn’t have continued her career without the independence and confidence her guide dog has given her.

“Guide Dogs transformed my life,” said Cecilia von Beroldingen, 60, now manager of the California Department of Justice Criminalistics Institute Forensic Traning Facility in Sacramento. “My guide dog has given me the independence and confidence to continue to work and do all the things I need to do.”

Actors Eva LaRue and Omar Miller, who play crime scene investigators Natalia Boa Vista and Walter Simmons on the long running police series, presented von Beroldingen with the inaugural National Guide Dog Change of Life Award, kicking off National Guide Dog Month.

“One thing we do consistently is confuse people about the work of real life forensic scientists because now everyone expects them to solve crimes in an hour,” Miller said, getting a laugh from a crowd gathered in a grassy amphitheater on the Guide Dogs for the Blind campus. “In real life it doesn’t work that way.”

Twenty years ago, a brain tumor left von Beroldingen, an expert on forensic DNA testing, with no vision in her left eye and very little in her right eye.

“That was a devastating occurrence,” shesaid. “My life got turned upside down.”

But shortly after getting her first guide dog, she was able to walk confidently into a courtroom and testify in a high-profile murder case.

“My guide dog walked me into the courtroom and up into the witness box as opposed to tapping my way with a cane,” she said as her second guide dog, Meoki, sat quietly at her feet.

Since that first case, her guide dog has allowed her to travel and testify in court cases in 32 states and in Mexico.

“We play crime scene investigators on television,” Miller said before a dozen trainers ceremoniously turned over their dogs to their new blind owners.

“Today we had the pleasure of meeting someone who actually does what we portray on television,” he continued. “She has humbled us and become our hero in a very short period of time. What she does and continues to do with such courage and tenacity is incredible.”

Contact Paul Liberatore via email at —— (c)2011 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.) Visit The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.) at

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