by Donald C. Capps
From the Editor: As Monitor readers know, Don Capps is the senior member of the National Federation of the Blind's Board of Directors. He serves as President of the NFB of South Carolina, and in recent months he and his wife Betty have been tireless volunteers working to raise funds for our capital campaign. This is what he says:
Dr. Kenneth Jernigan was unquestionably one of the greatest visionaries of the twentieth century. His service spanned a half century of selfless service to the blind of the nation and the world, and Dr. Jernigan has left a legacy which includes a myriad of unprecedented accomplishments. We remember him particularly for his masterful facility development. Having been blessed by more than four decades of close personal friendship, I marveled at Dr. Jernigan's ability to transform virtually useless things into substantive resources. More than forty years ago, when Dr. Jernigan assumed the leadership of the Iowa Commission for the Blind in 1958, one of his first major initiatives was successfully to renovate an old YMCA building, converting it into one of the nation's finest facilities. Twenty years later, in 1978, Dr. Jernigan continued to demonstrate his uncanny ability when he converted a building constructed at the turn of the century into what we now know as the National Center for the Blind, regarded as perhaps the finest facility of its type in the country.
Most of us would have been willing to rest upon our laurels, but Dr. Jernigan possessed an incomparable fervor, envisioning still another needed facility. For most of the decade of the '90's, he discussed with many of us his dream of designing a much-'needed facility dedicated to research and training. His dream is now being carried out as we work together to raise eighteen million dollars to fund the construction of the National Research and Training Institute for the Blind.
To demonstrate our total commitment to Dr. Jernigan's dream, Betty and I at the 1999 National Convention deeply felt that we wanted to make a sacrificial pledge of $25,000. Since that time it has been my heartfelt pleasure to encourage others to have a meaningful part in this capital campaign as well. At state conventions which I have attended since the Atlanta convention, I have strongly encouraged Federationists to do their fair share in helping to make this capital campaign a success. We've also encouraged members of the NFB of South Carolina to pitch in making their gifts. Recently, one officer of the NFB of South Carolina made a sacrificial pledge of $1,000. We have also had meetings with businesses and foundations as we continue to convert Dr. Jernigan's dream into reality. Dr. Jernigan enriched the lives of hundreds of thousands of blind people, and we can honor his lifetime of service by getting involved in this challenging and meritorious capital campaign to honor the memory of a great American visionary. Remember that victories in life are not fashioned in the first mile, but in the last.