American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults
Future Reflections
       Convention Issue 2015      AWARDS

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The Dan Ryles Memorial Award

Presented by Carlton Anne Cook Walker and Barbara Cheadle

Carol Castellano and Barbara CheadleIntroduction by Carlton Anne Cook Walker: For more than thirty years, Carol Castellano has served the blind community through her numerous articles, her insightful books, and her many presentations around the country. She has served the NFB and the NOPBC through decades of organizational, logistical, and creative leadership, and she has served parents and their blind children as an advocate, as a mentor, and as a role model.

I have a few more words to say, but first Barbara Cheadle, the longest-serving president of the NOPBC, would like to speak to you.

[Amid much hilarity, the lights suddenly went out.]

Barbara Cheadle: Thank you. I felt very comfortable with that. I thought, This will be all right. What other conference can you go to where the lights go out and it's, Oh, it's all right, just carry on.

I am so pleased to be here today to honor Carol Castellano. She was a mainstay for me when I was in the presidency and she was vice president and serving in many other roles as well. After I stepped down, we've done some role reversal, haven't we? I want to say a few words about what has made Carol a very special leader.

It is rare to find someone who has the capacity to see the bigger picture, to see all the complexities of a situation, and to see into the future about what the possibilities are and how to get there; and also to be a detail person. You'll notice that of the five books we have on sale at our literature table, three are by Carol Castellano. We have her first one, The Bridge to Braille, a little spiral-bound book. We have Making It Work: Educating the Blind and Visually Impaired Student in the Regular School; and we have Getting Ready for College Begins in Third Grade.

When Carol came out with her first book, and we were negotiating with Dr. Jernigan about getting it published, Dr. Jernigan said, "We don't need that spiral. It will be cheaper to do it with a different type of binding." But Carol said, "Oh, no no no! Teachers need to use this book, and when they have to make copies or make notes from it, they'll want to be able to lay it flat." Well, we won that one, and ever since then I've heard teachers say, "That's such a great idea, that spiral binding!" Detail! That's Carol!

Carol comes out with the big picture, bringing out a book to show you the links between what you do now with your third grader that make a difference in preparation for college and for life. The big picture--that's Carol.

What we're building up to is an award presentation to you, Carol. This is the Dan Ryles Memorial Award, presented to Carol Castellano. For those of you who do not know and the many who do, Ruby Ryles was the first recipient of this award. Dan, her son, died far too young. His loss was a tragedy and a sadness for us all. As a way to honor and remember him, and to remember the marvelous work that Ruby has done, we decided to create this award. We give it only when appropriate, to someone whose contribution to the literature and the education of blind children deserve it. No one deserves it more today than Carol Castellano. [Applause]

Carlton Anne Cook Walker [reads]: The National Organization of Parents of Blind Children presents the Dan Ryles Memorial Award to Carol Castellano in recognition of a life's work teaching, inspiring, and mentoring countless parents and their blind children, and for invaluable contributions to the literature. You are a teacher, a role model, and our friend. Orlando, Florida, July 2015. [Applause]

Carol Castellano: Thank you! This is a surprise to me, and it is about the most meaningful thing this organization could give to me. I knew Dan as a kid. He was a wonderful young guy. I used to hang out with him at conventions, and his mom, Ruby, was an enormous help to me when I attended my first convention. To receive this award is really a special thing. I appreciate it so much! I will continue to serve. I love this organization. I love you all. Thank you so much! [Applause]

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