[nagdu] STORY OF SURVIVAL: 9/11 survivor offers inspiration for Iowa blind

Ginger Kutsch gingerKutsch at yahoo.com
Tue Sep 21 10:52:53 UTC 2010

STORY OF SURVIVAL: 9/11 survivor offers inspiration for Iowa
Staff Writer 
8:54 AM CDT, September 20, 2010
Michael Hingson has been blind since birth. But with his guide
dog at his side, he managed to escape the World Trade Center on
September 11th, 2001 and help others do the same.
On the morning of the attack, Hingson was busy preparing for a
big meeting with his sales team. There was a muffled explosion
and suddenly his office was in motion.
"The building tipped and tipped and tipped. We literally moved
about 20 feet," he said, speaking before the Iowa Department for
the Blind Friday.
The panic among his associates was immediate. He and his
associate, David, said good-bye. "We thought we were going to
take a 78 floor plunge," he said.
Hingson felt for his guide dog, Roselle, and realized her tail
wagging. In that instant, he says he knew there was a chance to
escape. He directed his staff to head for the stairs to begin the
78 floor decent.
No one knew yet just what had happened 18 floors up.
Surprisingly, Hingson says his biggest fear was a power failure
and the chaos that could ensue with everyone else in the dark. He
tried light-heartedly to prepare people for the possibility.
"I finally said to people, 'I don't want anyone to worry. Roselle
and I are here and if the power and lights go out, we're offering
a half-price special to get you out today only,'" he said.
It took a full hour to get outside. David and Roselle made it
several blocks before the tower came down.
"We heard this rumble that literally within half a second became
this deafening roar," he said.
Through the thick cloud of dust, Roselle found a set of stairs
and led them to safety in the subway.
Since then Hingson has left his job to speak around the world
about his experience. Still he says it's often his former career
that prompts the most questions.
"They still have a hard time fathoming the concept that a blind
person could be a regional sales manager for a multi billion
dollar fortune five hundred company," he said. "The reality is
blindness isn't the handicap it's our perceptions." 

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