Release Date: 
Monday, February 19, 2007
John G. Paré Jr.
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2371
(410) 913-3912 (Cell)
Kevan Worley
President, National Association of Blind Merchants
(719) 527-0488 (303) 929-2369 (Cell)

Hundreds of Blind Entrepreneurs Gather in Denver

Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger to Receive Braille Football

Denver, Colorado (February 19, 2007): Over five hundred blind businessmen and women will assemble at the Adam’s Mark Hotel on March 7, 2007, for the National Association of Blind Merchants (NABM) annual meeting.  The meeting, known as the Business, Leadership, and Superior Training (B.L.A.S.T.) conference, will feature speeches, training sessions, technology demonstrations, exhibits, and networking opportunities. 

Events planned for this year’s conference include speeches by Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), of which NABM is an affiliate organization, and Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, the college football player and motivational speaker whose life story was told in the 1993 hit film Rudy.  Dr. Maurer and Mr. Ruettiger are both graduates of the University of Notre Dame.  Dr. Maurer is an attorney and his profile was included in his alma mater’s “Champions of Notre Dame” promotional campaign.  Mr. Ruettiger is famous for sacking the quarterback in the final seconds of the last football game of his senior year, the only game in which he ever played, after a long struggle to attend Notre Dame and make the football team.

After Mr. Ruettiger’s keynote speech, Dr. Maurer will present his fellow alum with an honorary Braille football from the National Federation of the Blind.

“The Randolph-Sheppard vending program is the most successful employment program for the blind in America today, and being among so many of the dynamic entrepreneurs who participate in it, as well as other blind business owners, is always a special thrill,” said Dr. Maurer.  “I am very much looking forward to addressing the conference and to sharing the stage with my fellow Notre Dame alumnus Rudy Ruettiger, whose story is an inspiration to all people, blind and sighted alike.”

James Gashel, Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives at the National Federation of the Blind, will be demonstrating the new Kurzweil-National Federation of the Blind Reader, the first truly portable, handheld reader for the blind.  In particular, he will highlight the new currency identification mode, a feature of special interest to the blind business owners who will be attending the conference.

After the Friday luncheon featuring the addresses from NFB President Maurer and Rudy, the blind entrepreneurs will take part in some extreme B.L.A.S.T. hands-on activities such as indoor rock climbing, go-cart races, human bowling and more.  “B.L.A.S.T. is all about moving out of one’s comfort zone,” explained Kevan Worley of Colorado Springs, National Association of Blind Merchants President.

“The conference will be spectacular because the community of blind business owners is more vibrant than ever.  The energy and commitment of Randolph-Sheppard vendors has helped the National Association of Blind Merchants to foster relationships with progressive companies like Dunkin’ Donuts, Pepsi, Otis Spunkmeyer, and Naked Juice, to name just a few.  These companies are now partnering with blind vendors across the nation to provide greater opportunity and profitability for all concerned,” said Mr. Worley.  “Blind business owners, inside and outside the Randolph-Sheppard program, are shattering public misconceptions about blindness by showing that sight is not a prerequisite for success in the business world or in any other aspect of life,” Mr. Worley continued.

For more information or to register for the B.L.A.S.T. conference, visit  For more information about the National Federation of the Blind visit