Braille Monitor                                                                                May-June 1986


Kansas City in July Means Progress for the Blind

by Richard Edlund and Gary Wunder

It is fast approaching that time of year when Federationists gather to take stock of our progress, take collective action, and draw strength and inspiration by being a part of the most fantastic people's organization in the country, the National Federation of the Blind. For many of us the convention is the highpoint of our year, a time when we work hard, play hard, and go home exhausted, exhilarated, ready for next year's convention, but hoping we will have just a moment to catch our breath.

One distinctive characteristic of Federation conventions is that they never let us down. All the months of waiting are rewarded when, spellbound in anxious anticipation, we hear the striking of the gavel and the announcement that "The convention of the National Federation of the Blind is now in order."

Registering is another highpoint when we get our agendas and see that the impossible has been done: Our topics and guest speakers are even more exciting than last year and our expert panelists are second to none, probably because so many of them come from our own ranks.

This year the convention is being hosted by the Kansas and Missouri affiliates. As usual, the hosts have done a remarkable job of bringing to Federationists the ultimate in hospitality, tours, door prizes, and some little extras. The affiliates will staff a joint suite where Federationists are encouraged to come and participate in the excitement that comes from sharing our experience, strength, and hope. We will have a desk in the lobby for your convenience, which will provide help or information. We will also assign an ambassador to meet with each state delegation to deal with any questions or problems you may have.

Before we discuss all that awaits you, let's talk about how we can help you get there. Kansas City International Airport is quite a distance from downtown Kansas City, and travelers should be aware that under deregulation, taxi cabs may charge as much as they wish to transport you to our hotels. The City Council is currently discussing concerns raised by persons who have been charged as much as $40 to reach downtown. Remember: If you plan to travel by taxi, negotiate your rate before you begin your trip.

To make your trip a bit easier we have organized transportation from the airport to any of the Federation hotels at a cost to you of $6. To take advantage of this service, you must contact us in advance. Roy Zuvers is coordinating transportation, and he will accept requests either by letter or telephone. Requests should include: 1) your full name and address; 2) the date and time you will be arriving; 3) the airline you will be using; 4) your flight number; and 5) the number of persons in your party. Roy may be reached by writing him at 232 West 82nd Terrace, Kansas City, Missouri 64114 or by calling 816333-2173. If calling, please be prepared to leave your information on an electronic answering machine. Please do not send money to us to cover the cost of transportation or any tours mentioned in this article. The $6 fee for transportation will be collected by your driver, and you may pay for any tours when purchasing tickets at the convention.

Should you wish to avoid the necessity of making transportation reservations but still wish a reduced fair, you may ride the bus, which runs from the airport to the Hyatt at a price of $8.50. Remember that this bus will not take you to a hotel other than the Hyatt.

Our tours will begin on Saturday with a pub crawl. For those who like to party, buses will be available to take you to some of the finest jazz spots in Kansas City. Buses will run from 8:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. and participants in the crawl may visit as many attractions as they wish. If you like the first stop, stay there. If you are an adventurer, try them all. Although jazz is a major attraction in most of the clubs visited, there are other spots available featuring a different beat. The cost of the pub crawl is $12.50, and convention goers can take advantage of this opportunity on the Saturday before or the Saturday after convention. The heartier ones among us might even wish to take advantage of both.

On Wednesday there will be a tour of Independence, Missouri, the town that brought us former president Harry Truman. The price will be $13.50, and the tour will include stops at Truman's home, the Truman Library, and the courthouse where Truman first served as a public official. This tour will begin at 1:00 p.m. and end at 5:00 p.m.

On Wednesday evening you may wish to participate in a boat cruise on the Missouri River Boat Queen. The price of the cruise will be something over $20. The boat will not be reserved by the NFB and reservations must be made after your arrival in Kansas City.

One of the things Kansas City is noted for is its food. To help Federationists get to restaurants located some distance from downtown, we will provide vans on request. We expect costs to be no more than $5 a head for transportation to establishments such as the Golden Ox, Jess and Jim's Steak House, Gates Barbeque, Stephenson's Apple Farm, Haywards, and Arthur Bryant's, the restaurant where President Carter ate when last in Kansas City.

Each night during the convention we will host a hospitality room where Federationists can meet new friends and share memories with old acquaintances. We will have an eight piece band on Tuesday evening for the dance, as well as other entertainment during the week.

No convention would be complete without door prizes, and Mike Roberts intends to see that we have a ton of them to give away. Persons wishing to send prizes for the convention should ship them to Mike Roberts, 5410 Crest Drive, Kansas City, Kansas 66116, 913-236-5944. Please do not send prizes to the National Center for the Blind. Prizes should be worth $25 or more and should be labeled in print and Braille, giving a description of the item, who gets credit for donating it, and its approximate value.

The 1986 convention promises to be a whizaroo. We will review our progress, take stock of matters affecting the blind, and make decisions that will determine the opportunities for the blind for many years to come. We will elect a President and members of our Board, adopt policy statements to guide them, and share and strengthen our resolve to make the lives of all blind persons a little better tomorrow than they are today. Come and be a part of it all. Make your mark on progress, share your enthusiasm with others, and rejoice in the knowledge that we are the blind of America in action.