American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults
Future Reflections Convention 2017 NOPBC CONFERENCE
by Mark Riccobono
From the Editor: By long-standing tradition, the President of the National Federation of the Blind visits with the blind children who attend the opening session of the NOPBC Conference with their parents. This year President Mark Riccobono sat on the floor in a circle of blind children to talk about blindness and life in general.
Mark Riccobono: Can you all tell me your names? Okay, I hear Emma, Paul, Elizabeth, Oriana ... Oriana? I think I know you! [Laughter. Oriana is his daughter.] Who else is here? Jordan, Collin, Kayleigh, Nick, Nathaniel, Marly, Matthew, Abby, Amelia, Darius, Lily, Alexis. This is a great turnout! Okay, I have a very important question. We're in Florida. What do you call an alligator in a vest?
Matthew: A croc vest?
Mark Riccobono: Anybody else? An investigator! Now, do you guys know what potential is? Who said yes? Elizabeth, tell me what potential is.
Elizabeth: When something could do something.
Mark Riccobono: Anybody have something to add? Well, potential is exactly what you said, and potential is what you're building at this convention. All these folks are listening in on our conversation—they want to help you build your potential.
Child: I get scared of eating corn. Corn is poisonous.
Mark Riccobono: I can see your point. I'm from Wisconsin, and we always looked over at Iowa that way. [Laughter] Trying new things is a little scary, but when you do it, you build your potential.
Child: Zip lining.
Mark Riccobono: Zip lining! Yes! Do you like to zip line?
Child: Not that much.
Mark Riccobono: Okay, you've done it, but you don't necessarily like it. One beautiful thing that you have here in the National Federation of the Blind is a whole network of people. Many of them do not even know you, but they want you to build your potential. You know what you need to use that potential for? To pursue your dreams. Anybody have dreams?
Mark Riccobono: You need lots of potential to pursue big dreams and small dreams. We're here to help you with that. That's the first message I want to leave you with today. Anybody like to play?
Mark Riccobono: Well, if you work hard in your life, you get to play hard. The more you work, the more you get to play. In order to build your potential and pursue your dreams, you've got to work hard and play hard. That's the other message I want to give you. Any questions?
Collin: What state are you from?
Mark Riccobono: Great question. I live in Maryland, and I'm originally from the great state of Wisconsin. What state are you from?
Mark Riccobono: A small state, with lots of potential.
Kayleigh: I'm from Louisiana.
Mark Riccobono: Kayleigh's from Louisiana. You drove here? You didn't drive yourself, did you? What do you guys like to do for fun? ... Painting ... I heard reading ... Swimming ... Sneak a cookie! That's a sport right there! Who said sneak a cookie?
Nathaniel: Me. Nathaniel.
Mark Riccobono: So if anybody wants to know how to sneak a cookie, we have an expert here. If you hear that someone else is really good at doing something, like swimming, or sneaking a cookie from the cookie jar, you can talk to them. You can find out what they do and how they do it.
Nathaniel: I do it when I'm in time out.
Mark Riccobono: Oh! He sneaks the cookies when he's in time out! He's already in trouble to begin with! That's pretty good! Anybody else have things they like to do?
Mark Riccobono: I think we have a whole group that wants to go to the pool. There are three pools in this hotel. Any other questions?
Jordan: How do you sneak a cookie?
Mark Riccobono: Jordan, I could give you hints about this privately, but since my daughter Oriana is here, I don't want to disclose. Oriana might learn how to do it.
Oriana: I already know.
Mark Riccobono: Oh! She says she knows how to do it already! We'll talk about that later. Okay, I hope you all will come to many more conventions to build your potential and pursue your big dreams. And here's the other thing—if you want to talk to me about anything, come up to the Presidential Suite, and we can continue the conversation.