by Rick Reed
From the Editor: Rick Reed is the president of the National Federation of the Blind of Wyoming, and in this story, which was originally posted on one of our listservs, he relates the transformative nature of our message and the need to be visible in our communities so we can circulate it. Here is what Rick says:
I had the amazing opportunity the other day to represent my affiliate and our national organization at the 2015 Wyoming Transitions Day. This event is primarily for high school students who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, or hard of hearing and encourages them to pursue higher education with goals of finding a career that will let them live the lives they want. It is sponsored by Wyoming Independent Living, Vision Outreach Services, and the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.
The National Federation of the Blind of Wyoming is an annual fixture at this event, where we provide information about our Federation and our programs. This year I was asked to give a presentation on assistive technology, where I introduced many students, parents, and teachers to the KNFB Reader app for the first time. I also presented a session on self-advocacy. During these presentations I had the pleasure of meeting a high school junior named Hope.
Hope is a blind student in Sheridan, Wyoming, a little town just south of the Montana border. She is an absolute gem of a person and just so eager to learn everything she can that it warms the heart. Hope's dream is to become a nurse. Until that day the only person in her life who had any faith in her and in her ability to realize her dreams was her TVI [teacher of the visually impaired]. She has no support from her family. They tell her that there is really not much she can do as a blind person. When she shared her dream with her family, she was told, "I would never let someone like you be my nurse.”
I was and still am enraged by this lack of familial support. I offered Hope my support in any way I could give it and promised to get her in touch with blind people who are working in similar fields with whom she can talk. I am also encouraging her to keep getting good grades and to apply for our national scholarships next year when she is a senior.
Before she left to head back to Sheridan from the event, I gave her one of the 75 in 75 Braille wristbands that I carry in my bag. When she read it and felt the "Live the Life You Want" embossed in Braille on the little piece of rubber, she broke down in tears, and I am not at all ashamed to say that I joined her. It was a very emotional moment all around.
With that story told, what I'm requesting is this: I would like to get in touch with as many blind people as I can who are working in the healthcare field. This girl needs mentors and role models who can show her that she can make her dreams come true and that she can live the life she wants, not what someone else thinks she should be limited to. If you work in healthcare and you’d be interested in mentoring her, email me at <[email protected]>.
Thank you for sticking with me through this tale and for whatever help and advice you can give me here. I want this young lady to succeed, and I'd love to see her on stage in a couple years receiving a scholarship at our national convention.
The National Federation of the Blind has special giving opportunities that will benefit the giver as well as the NFB. Of course the largest benefit to the donor is the satisfaction of knowing that the gift is leaving a legacy of opportunity. However, gifts may be structured to provide more:
NFB programs are dynamic: