Braille Monitor               December 2023

(back) (contents) (next)

From California to Illinois–Powered by Braille

by Rachel Held

Rachel HeldFrom the Editor: Rachel Held is the coordinator of outreach in the office of the President. Here she gives us another beautiful view of Dan O’Rourke’s ride for literacy.

This summer the National Federation of the Blind partnered with longtime NHL referee Dan O’Rourke to spread the word about Braille literacy across Route 66. Dan traded in his skates for some pedals, and biked over 2,700 miles from Santa Monica, California, to Chicago, Illinois, over the span of six weeks. His wife April and their dog Beiley followed behind in an RV. With his family in tow, we’re reminded that Dan’s motivation started at home. His father, Tom, never let his declining vision get in the way of his independence, and that dedication to our mission inspired Dan to take up this challenge and bike for Braille literacy.

Along the way, Dan stopped in six different cities to gather with NFB members and their communities. They participated in everything from spray paint art at Cadillac Ranch in Texas, to tandem bike-riding in Arizona. Bringing out members old and new, Dan’s ride was an exciting motivator for chapters and affiliates to get together and build new connections.

The goal of this partnership and ride was to raise funds for and increase awareness around Braille literacy, especially for young blind students. Helping us to further the reach of our Braille literacy programs, such as the NFB BELL® Academy, the Ride for Literacy raised over $50,000. We are so thankful to Dan and our NFB family and friends for achieving this goal. Dan even inspired his father to start learning Braille!

Dan O’Rourke with Pam Allen and Robert Stigle at the Santa Monica Route 66 End of the Trail sign.

When asked about her husband’s incredible commitment to this ride, April O’Rourke said, “You never know what can happen each day, and I’m so proud of Dan for keeping our days interesting for such a great reason.”

Dan attributes his success to the kids he met at our NFB BELL® Academy programs. He was inspired particularly by the words of encouragement from one young student who said, “I think you’re going to come up against some big hills, and there’s going to be some hard days, but every time you pedal, that’s progress. And progress is progress.”

We at the NFB know what progress means. Since 1940 we have led the organized blind movement courageously and never tired of the fight for inclusion. With increased rates of Braille literacy at our fingertips, we will inspire the next generation of blind leaders. Like Dan, we will never stop moving forward in our goals to raise expectations and achieve equity for blind people in schools, the workforce, and communities.

(back) (contents) (next)

Media Share