Future Reflections Winter/Spring 2005
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Reprinted from the February 2004 issue of In Touch, the newsletter of the New Jersey Parents of Blind Children (POBC-NJ), an affiliate of the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children and the NFB of New Jersey.
Carol Castellano, President, POBC-NJ: One day I received a phone call from a director at HBO who said they were looking for a blind child to include in a special they were doing on celebrating diversity. They seemed to want an active, happy blind kid, so it seemed that they were going into the project with some good attitudes and expectations. I called several POBC families whose children were in the right age bracket and asked if I could pass their names along to the director. HBO then took over the process and interviewed and the kids. They eventually selected…well, I'll let Mike Molloy tell you the rest of the story:
When we received a phone call last fall from Carol Castellano asking us if we would consider allowing HBO to do a film interview with our son, Patrick, for an HBO special on diversity and differences, our family talked it over. We got back to Carol to say "as long as they are hoping to send the correct message concerning blindness we are fine with it." Thus began our experience with the nice folks at HBO.
Patrick is a typical ten year old. He attends Goodnoe Elementary School where he is in the fifth grade. He likes science class the best. He loves Harry Potter books. He plays the piano and swims. Since being introduced to the Mid Atlantic Junior Blind Golf Association, he has been an avid golfer. Winning the putting competition last spring counts as one of his favorite accomplishments. He'd like to meet Tiger Woods.
After Carol gave our name to the folks at HBO, we were called and interviewed over the phone and eventually a director came down from New York city to meet with Patrick and ask him lots of questions. He must have passed her test because the very next week the whole film crew showed up to follow Patrick for an entire day. There was a camera man, a sound man, the lighting guy, and the director and her assistant. They came to the house and started by interviewing Patrick in his room. They then went to school with him and filmed him in the halls and in his classroom. His fellow students thought it was very cool. Next came filming him on the bus ride home! (It sounded like it got very exciting). Then they followed Patrick to the local country club. In spite of the fading light and cold they were able to do some more filming. Finally they followed him home and got in one last shot before heading back to New York.
My favorite moment occurred when the director asked Patrick if it was frustrating being blind and did he regret not being able to do some things that sighted people could do. Patrick took a moment and then said to her, "Do you know Erik Weihenmayer?" "No," she answered, "who is he?" Patrick replied, "I met Erik Weihenmayer. He is a blind man who has climbed Mount Everest. There are a lot of sighted people who can't climb Mount Everest. I think blind people can do just about anything they want to." I pumped my fist and got goose bumps at his answer. Yes!
To all the parents who have to make those decisionsdo we cut the lawn and do the chores or do we drop everything, pack everyone into the car, and make the effort to go to those special eventsI say, yes, it is worth it! Patrick heard the message that Erik delivered that day and was able to clearly articulate it to someone who needed to hear it. Thank you, Erik and thank you, Patrick.
Note: Unfortunately that sound bite didn't make the final cut but Patrick did get a feature on the special. The show was shown in February 2004, on HBO Family and then re-aired throughout the following month on both channels. The show is geared towards younger children but the message is good for all.
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