[nfbmi-talk] Affiliate President Buried Alive by Youth

Donna Posont donnabutterfly50 at gmail.com
Tue Oct 20 20:15:29 CDT 2009

Hey Terry,  Thanks for putting into words for us the true meaning of why we 
have the National Federation of the Blind.  In all situations we can 
encourage one another as we grow in the knowledge that it is okay to be 
blind. As we help others gain confidence we too get our own confidence in 
the process.  I also  confidently climbed some big slimey, slippery rocks 
and then not so confidently wondered how I would ever get down.  With the 
encouragement of blind and sighted friends I worked my way down managing not 
to break any body parts in the adventure. Again, I appreciate your 
enthusiasm and I look forward to sharing moremountain top experiences with 
you. Take care and be blessed, Donna---- Original Message ----- 
From: "trising" <trising at sbcglobal.net>
To: "NFB of Michigan List" <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 10:58 AM
Subject: [nfbmi-talk] Affiliate President Buried Alive by Youth

> Affiliate President Buried Alive by Youth
>            The NFB of Michigan's No Limits Youth Outreach 2009 Mackinac 
> Bridge Walk was an excellent experience. The trip began at 5 A.M. on 
> Friday morning, with a long ride up to Munising. Our group consisted of 
> nine 12-18 year old blind youth, ten blind adult mentors, and five 
> drivers. My husband and I are mentors who are totally blind from birth who 
> experienced the trip for the first time.
> After the long ride in the car, kids and adults alike were ready for some 
> action! We found it on Saturday morning, in the form of a scavenger hunt 
> which was designed to promote Braille, and independent mobility. Clues 
> involved telling a passerby about Louis Braille and giving out a chocolate 
> coin, or navigating a nature trail out to an outcropping of rock in the 
> shape of a castle. I do not consider myself a confident traveler, but I 
> was the first to find the steps leading from an outlook down to another 
> part of the trail.
> One clue, worth 1000 points, required the burial an NFB board member in 
> the sand at the beach. Kids and adults alike pitched in and buried Fred 
> Wurtzel. Since I do not like the feel of things on my hands, I volunteered 
> to hold cell phones and keep them safe from the sand. However, Fred 
> realized he was not sufficiently buried in some spots and told us we got 
> no points if we did not do better. I handed the phones off to my husband 
> Nick and started helping pile sand on top of him. Discovering that I could 
> still feel his arm and hand through the sand, I knew that spot needed more 
> work. After a complete immersion, our driver had mercy and rescued him.
>            While at the beach, many of us rolled up our pant legs and 
> waded into Lake Superior. Several of the kids threw caution to the wind 
> and jumped into the lake.
>            Lunch had to be postponed because of a spectacular surprise. 
> Larry Posont arranged for us to get on a 2.5 hour Pictured Rocks cruise. 
> This unexpected treat made it necessary to leave our pasties in the car 
> and hurry onto the boat. We were able to get a Coke and Doritos to hold 
> off our hunger until after the cruise. It was worth the wait in order to 
> enjoy the feel of the wind on our faces and the sound of the waves. My 
> husband Nick and I preferred standing by the rail in the sun and wind 
> rather than sitting below decks in our seats.
>            After the cruise, we ate our pasties on the beach. A pastie is 
> a regional recipe consisting of a hand held flaky crust, containing meat 
> and vegetables, originally prepared for copper and iron miners in the U.P. 
> Pasties originated in Cornwall England, and were designed to stay warm for 
> long periods even in the cold mines. Several of us had waited long enough, 
> and the water beckoned us like a long lost friend! In spite of the fact 
> that we were not in bathing suits, and the water was cold, we went for a 
> swim. I hate the cold, but love the water. I decided I needed some help. I 
> asked several others who have the courage to run, and we joined hands and 
> ran from the beach into the water. Upon reaching the water and sand, I was 
> knocked off balance and fell into the water. That took care of my 
> reluctance to get in with the less than balmy water temperature.
>            Saturday evening culminated with a bonfire that included a hot 
> dog roast. I learned how to put a hot dog on a skewer, and balance the 
> skewer against the lip of the fire pit so that the meat was over the fire, 
> but not in the ash. It takes approximately 2.5 minutes per side to get a 
> fully cooked hot dog.
>            Sunday was to have commenced with one of the highlights of the 
> trip. We were to go to Laughing White Fish Falls in order to climb them! 
> However, when our group leader discovered that climbing the falls was 
> illegal, and since the trip was particularly designed for youth, we did 
> not go. Instead, we went to Seney Wild Life Refuge. Many went inside to 
> touch models of animals. The warm sun irresistibly called me onto the 1.5 
> mile nature trail. At first, I allowed our leader, who has partial vision 
> to lead us. I assumed incorrectly that I might not know where to go since 
> I am totally blind and have severe spatial concept difficulties. However, 
> Fred Wurtzel easily and gently demonstrated that my assumption was 
> incorrect. He instructed me to take a few steps right and asked what I 
> found. "Vegetation, "I reported. I also found the same thing when asked to 
> take a few steps left. To my delight I discovered that I was just as good 
> at leading on a nature trail as anyone else. You know quickly when you are 
> venturing off the trail because of the plant life under foot. Of course, 
> one can willfully venture off the trail. Since we could not climb the 
> falls, I still had my heart set on climbing around on some rocks. I 
> thought I felt a rock just off the trail with my cane and called 
> everyone's attention to the spot. We let Fred Wurtzel be brave and 
> investigate. It turned out that I had not found some rocks for adventurous 
> climbing, but a bog! Fred showed us what a bog was with his cane. The 
> vegetation grows back over some water on part of a lake or marsh. When you 
> try and put your cane in to determine if your next step will be wet or 
> dry, your cane gets wet and muddy. Better your cane than your only pair of 
> Tennis shoes!
>            As we reached the last third of our hike, we kept getting 
> random whiffs of smoke. As we rounded a corner, we heard some minor 
> crackling and really smelled smoke. To our surprise, we discovered an 
> unattended small forest fire! When Fred Wurtzel used a cell phone to 
> report the fire, the wild life refuge staff greeted our news with extreme 
> casualness! It turns out that they had set the fire as a controlled burn. 
> We hastened away from the smoke and the unattended fire.
>            The final adventurous highlight of the trip, swimming on Lake 
> Superior, occurred Sunday afternoon. We were to have swum out to some 
> cliffs in order to climb them, and leap off into the lake! Since we did 
> not have sufficient time to make the long swim, we settled on a closer 
> adventure. A few of us swam to a nearby rock and helped each other to get 
> on top of it. This was not particularly easy, since the rock was slanted 
> and slimy. Working together, everyone was able to get atop the rock, only 
> to intentionally slide back off into the water. The evening culminated 
> with a delicious dinner of locally caught fish.
>            Before returning to the Lower Peninsula on Labor Day, we 
> participated in the five mile 2009 Mackinac Bridge Walk along with 
> approximately forty thousand other individuals.  This was the third bridge 
> walk in which the blind youth outreach has participated, not only to have 
> fun outdoors, but to   educate the public about the capabilities of blind 
> people. Nick and I are fairly fast walkers, and we wanted to be able to 
> spread our wings and walk the bridge at a good pace. Once again, I started 
> walking the bridge thinking that I needed to be accompanied by someone 
> with vision. When our leader realized that she needed to stay with two 
> youth, she told us to feel free and go ahead and walk the bridge.  I 
> anxiously asked how we would find her at the end. She said stop at the end 
> of the bridge. Using our canes, we walked the bridge, independently, and 
> confidently. We were so quick; we caught up with three fast walking, 
> partially sighted youth and completed the bridge walk together! Next year, 
> Nick and I have agreed to chaperone some youth who want to be speedsters 
> on the bridge.
>            The Bridge walk no limits youth outreach confirmed that it does 
> not take eye sight to have some real adventure. The National Federation of 
> the Blind is changing my beliefs about our capabilities as blind people, 
> and also, about my capabilities as a blind individual. I can lead on 
> nature trails without seeing, and I can walk suspension bridges without 
> sighted guides. I can swim out to rocks. Together, I can be part of a 
> group of blind people that assists each other up onto slimy rocks in Lake 
> Superior! My husband and I can enjoy a week end with a group of like 
> minded adventurous blind people! Who says you have to be with sighted 
> people in order to have adventure?
>            According to Fred Wurtzel, "A month later, every time I take my 
> shoes off and hear sand fall from my socks from being buried, I smile. I 
> get so much energy and inspiration from the kids. Being outdoors in 
> Michigan is as good as life gets and sharing it with our NFB brothers and 
> sisters makes a great thing even better. My compliments to Melinda Latham, 
> our youth coordinator, along with Larry Posont, for organizing a great 
> event."
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