GLEN ELLYN – Glen Ellyn resident Ron Iorio beamed with pride sitting behind his drum kit as he rehearsed the song "Born to be Wild" with his fellow School of Rock bandmates.
Even though the 67-year-old was born blind in his right eye and with very little vision in his left eye, he doesn't let that stop him or slow him down.
"My music keeps me going," Iorio said.
Iorio has played with several bands in his life and has been playing with the School of Rock band for almost two years. His story has helped to inspire students at the school.
"He's very passionate about his drumming," said Marisa Boynton, general manager of the School of Rock in Glen Ellyn. "He has inspired adults at the school. He's been a great influence on adults."
Because Iorio can't read music charts, he plays mostly by ear. The band will perform in the upcoming Taste of Glen Ellyn, which will be May 19 to 22 in downtown Glen Ellyn.
Iorio overcame another obstacle in his life when he recently received his high school diploma through the help of the Winnetka-based Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired. After enrolling in the school in 2012, he received his diploma in September 2015.
"I wanted to better my chances of finding part-time work," he said.
Iorio impressed the instructors there, including Debbie Worman.
"As one of Ron’s first instructors at Hadley, I am just so proud of Ron and his accomplishment," Worman said in an email. "From the start, Ron knew that his goal of a Hadley high school diploma would take commitment and a lot of hard work...I was always impressed with his efforts. Although, he sometimes would express to me that the 'lessons were getting harder and harder,' he did not let this deter his efforts. He always kept his goal in mind, and when faced with a challenging lesson, would ask good questions."
During this time, she noted that Iorio's sister, Jo Ann Ginger, was his "loudest cheerleader."
"I know Jo Ann offered encouragement and guidance to her brother as he worked on his courses with us," she said. "We all need 'cheerleaders' in our lives to urge us on, and I know Jo Ann was her big brother’s loudest cheerleader."
Fellow Hadley instructor Ed Haines said Iorio "consistently demonstrated a commitment to education and a dedication to his goal of achieving a high school diploma."
Just like Iorio doesn't let his disability hold him back, he hopes other people with disabilities also will not let anything hold them back, especially if they are budding musicians.
"If you want to play an instrument, whatever it may be, go for it," he said.