Monthly Archives: February 2005

I Pitty The Fool

I Pitty The Fool

Being Blind For A Day!
MOUNT LAUREL, N.J., Jan. 24 /PRNewswire/ — Can you imagine a day
where you really see what you’re missing AND miss what you’re seeing? 500
South Jersey students will be doing just that during the
one-of-a-kind “Kindness Beats Blindness Day,” sponsored by Sovereign Bank.
On Thursday, January 27th, beginning at 7:30 a.m., all eyes will be on
Harrington Middle School in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, as 496 students in 7th
and 8th grade will go through the school day “seeing” what it’s like to be
visually impaired. Half of the participating students will be
blindfolded. All “blind” students will have a partner guiding them as a
“seeing eye kid.” Each team has the option of switching roles during the
day. “These children have spirit, enthusiasm, and golden hearts,” said
8th Grade teacher, Jen Uibel. “We are so impressed with their hard work
and dedication. They have acquired
knowledge, insight, and skills that I hope will stay with them and enhance
their lives – as well as ours – for years to come.”
The project was created in September after Uibel invited “Champion for
Children” author Thomas Baldrick to give an inspirational talk to the 8th
grade
students after their screening of the movie, “Pay It Forward.” Baldrick
got the “Kindness Beats Blindness” idea while writing his “Pay It Forward”
speech.
He not only challenged the kids to believe they could change the world as
young Haley Joel Osment’s character “Trevor” did in the movie, he offered
to help them do it! “I was hoping one or two kids would come forward to
`Pay It Forward,'” admitted Baldrick. “To work with 33 amazing 8th
graders and one
amazing teacher in a group I nicknamed ‘Harrington’s Heroes’ has been
rewarding beyond words. Now, to have 500 more caring kids join us is a
dream come
true. Since medicine is not ready for me to donate one of my eyes to
Rebecca, at least I can give her more hope.”
The goal of “Kindness Beats Blindness Day” is to help millions of
people like Rebecca Veeck, a young girl with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a
disease that has stolen her eyesight. Rebecca’s photograph is on the
cover of Baldrick’s latest book, “A Million & One Ways to Celebrate a
Child.” Specifically, the project aims to raise funds and awareness for
The Foundation Fighting Blindness, a “Top-Rated” charity by the American
Institute of Philanthropy and world
leader in research for blindness preventions, treatments and cures since
1971.
In order to carry out this “giving initiative,” students have asked
family, friends and local businesses to sponsor them. 8th grader
Kelsey Hogan, one of Harrington’s Heroes said, “This is without a
doubt the most moving thing I have ever done in my life. I have
learned so many things that I will
never forget, like how it isn’t all about you, and that helping needy
people can give you this beautiful, indescribable feeling that makes you
know you were put on this earth for a reason.”
Sovereign Bank stepped forward as title sponsor by supporting the
students as advisors and by granting their wish of supplying funds for all
the t-shirts
worn by the participating students. Sovereign’s Philadelphia/Southern New
Jersey President Jim Wujcik (who is also a Burlington County Freeholder)
has even been serving as an advisor to the Harrington’s Heroes Finance
Committee.
On “Kindness Beats Blindness Day,” students will become visually
impaired at a special morning ceremony. They will then attempt to
maintain as normal a day as possible. Prior to the event, the
students received safety training by the New Jersey Commission for the
Blind. The ceremonial removing of blindfolds
will highlight the powerful evening family program in the school
auditorium at 7:00 p.m.
Pat Dodd, Director of Development of The Foundation Fighting Blindness
said, “Kindness Beats Blindness” is a unique event for The Foundation
Fighting Blindness. It creates awareness for seventh and eighth graders as
to what it would be like not to see the sun rise or the color of your
first prom outfit. With the
momentum that keeps building for this campaign I believe The Foundation
can do a Kindness Beats Blindness Day in any school across the country.
It is a wonderful thing to have children helping to light the darkness for
others their own age who are suffering from blindness.”
Student Darryl Randall, of the Harrington’s Heroes Education
Committee, wrote the group’s mission statement. In it, he said, “We hope
to annually raise
money alongside The Foundation Fighting Blindness through the use of our
diverse skills. All of the Heroes believe that blindness is only a
challenge,
one that shouldn’t stop anyone from taking those steps toward their full
potential and more importantly, greatness.”
Principal Nancy Knight recognizes the outstanding work of these
students under the direction of teacher Jen Uibel and author Thomas
Baldrick. She said,
“Harrington’s Heroes are learning priceless lessons on empowerment, hard
work and giving. Jen and Thomas have proven we can teach kids to become
leaders
now and that passion and kindness are contagious!”
Baldrick believes so much in the power of children, he guaranteed
equality to all Harrington’s Heroes. Every major decision in the
“Kindness Beats
Blindness” project has been discussed and voted upon. “These kids really
feel like heroes,” he said. “Because they know we believe in them, they
have
grown from hoping they can change the world to knowing they are changing
the world.”
To support Harrington’s Heroes through an online donation, or for more
information, visit
http://www.FightBlindness.org
and click on Kindness Beats Blindness. Harrington Middle School is
located at 514 Moorestown Mount Laurel Road, Mt. Laurel, New Jersey. For
more information,
contact 856-234-1610.

–My Comments:
“These children have spirit, enthusiasm, and golden hearts,”
This may be true, but they are also getting the totally wrong picture
about blindness.

“Since medicine is not ready for me to donate one of my eyes to Rebecca,
at least I can give her more hope.”
Hope? Hope of what? Hope that someday, if I just wait long enough, some
miracle scientist is going to make a magical, mystical electronic eye and
I’ll get my sight back. Well I’ve seen the so-called “miraculous advances
in science.” You can keep them. I prefer not to look like some modern day
Frankenstein. This is once again giving the impression that blindness is
hopeless and you can’t live a normal life without sight. Shut it moron.
It’s about a positive attitude, believing that with the proper training
and attitude blindness is merely a characteristic and not the tragedy this
article makes it out to be.

“[…]like how it isn’t all about you, and that helping needy people can
give you this beautiful, indescribable feeling […]”
You know, I’m not going to argue with the sentemit she’s expressing,
because it is a wonderful feeling to make a difference and help those in
need. However, needy is not a word I would use to describe all blind
people. Granted there are those who are homeless, living in poverty, or
unable to support themselves for whatever reason, but there are also
thousands out there who are living productive, successful lives and would
be absolutely offended that they are being referred to as a “needy”
segment of the population.

Yes, there are things I need. I need to get some more customers for my
business. I need to pay for my upcoming wedding. I need to buy a house. I
need to get a snack before my stomach decides that my small intestine and
pancreas would make for a good brunch feast. Are we seeing a pattern? No?
Well let me spell it out for you. N-O-R-M-A-L. Yes, believe it or not,
these are absolutely normal things that everyone else on the planet does
every single day. Minus the eating of the pancreas, that?s just me, and if
you don?t understand it now, you never will. The point is that blind
people do the same things the rest of you do, we just do them differently.
If you pity me because I?m different and you can?t understand how I do
things, well then I pity you for being short sighted, closed minded, and
ignorant. I?m not amazing. I?m not some super blind guy. As great as it
would be I, unfortunately, don?t have special powers.

Okay, I take back the part about being close minded, and short sighted, to
appoint. I can cure your ignorance if, and only if, you ask questions. I?m
willing to tell you how I do things. How I get around without killing
myself. How I use the computer. How I do my job. Just ask for crying out
loud. Oh and while I?m on the subject, I know what the traffic laws are
for pedestrians. I can cross the street, so please, for my sanity if
nothing else, stop pulling out into an intersection, stopping traffic, and
yelling that it?s now safe for me to cross. I can figure it out on my own
thank you.

“It creates awareness […] as to what it would be like not to see the sun
rise or the color of your first prom outfit.”
Do I even really have to touch this one? True, it would be nice to be able
to discern the intricate details of art. Or watch the sunrise (like I’m
ever awake for that), but can we be realistic for a minute. Is my life
really that much worse because I can’t do these things? Am I to be pitied
because I can’t see facial expressions, or read a street sign? If you
actually had the gall to answer yes to those questions you really haven’t
been paying much attention.

Blindness is not the end of the world. It is perfectly possible to live a
successful life without sight. There are inconveniences, like not being
able to drive, but there are also myriad alternative techniques to get
things done. I admire the spirit of what these children are trying to do.
I don’t think they’re wrong for trying to raise funds for preventing
blindness. I do however, think they need to learn that the “disease” they
are trying to fight is not the worst thing out there. I’m not limiting my
rant to the children alone. I blame their teachers and this author for
teaching them that blind people are to be pitied. Whether they are
conscious of it or not, that’s what they’re doing. They’ve got these kids
convinced that blind people are needy, and helpless, and it?s just wrong
by any stretch of the imagination.

I?m seriously not knocking these kids? desire to help, or make a
difference, I just think they?re getting mislead and misinformed about
blindness and that irks me. People need to learn that we?re not living in
caves anymore and that blind people should be able to compete on terms of
equality with our sighted peers.