[Nfbmo] Fw: [nfbmi-talk] Affiliate President Buried Alive by Youth

fred olver goodfolks at charter.net
Tue Oct 20 19:24:23 UTC 2009

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "trising" <trising at sbcglobal.net>
To: "NFB of Michigan List" <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 9:58 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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