[Nfbmo] Fw: blind person throws out first pitch at Dodgers game

Debbie Wunder debbiewunder at centurytel.net
Tue Aug 30 17:41:41 UTC 2011

Hi Jim, how cool is this! Thanks for sharing.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "James Moynihan" <jamesmmoynihan at gmail.com>
To: "NFB of Missouri Mailing List" <nfbmo at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 10:11 AM
Subject: [Nfbmo] Fw: blind person throws out first pitch at Dodgers game

> Fellow Federationists
> Jim Moynihan
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Neuman, Dale A." <NeumanD at umkc.edu>
> To: <jamesmmoynihan at gmail.com>
> Sent: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 8:16 AM
> Subject: blind person throws out first pitch at Dodgers game
> LOS ANGELES — Shortly after 7 p.m. on Monday night at Dodger Stadium, 
> Lorri Bernson threw out the first pitch prior to the Dodgers-San Diego 
> Padres game.
> Like dozens of other first-pitch honorees before her this season, Bernson 
> was accompanied by family and friends. Dodger catcher A.J. Ellis was 
> behind the plate, yelling instructions to Bernson, who arched the ball and 
> got it to him on one bounce. Then, Dodger starter Clayton Kershaw headed 
> to the mound to warm up for his start. Ellis and Bernson shared a 
> celebratory hug, and walked off the field awash in a warm ovation from the 
> crowd. It was just another routine first pitch ceremony in Chavez Ravine.
> Not quite. The starting pitcher doesn't often take the mound in footsteps 
> of somebody who cannot see.
> Bernson is blind, having lost 98 percent of her vision at age 33 due to 
> complications from Type 1 diabetes. Ellis talked with her throughout to 
> guide her through the pitch. It was the first time in Dodger Stadium 
> history that a person who has virtually no sight tossed the ceremonial 
> pitch. Add to that, general manager Ned Colletti and the organization 
> itself are the sponsors of Bernson's guide dog, Carter.
> "When I signed my last contract with the Dodgers," Colletti said, "I added 
> a clause that I would donate X amount of money to help charities of my 
> choosing. I added the clause with the stipulation that the Dodgers would 
> match it. I had done some (charitable) work in Chicago and San Francisco, 
> but here I wanted to try to make more of an impact, even if it was just 
> one person at a time.
> "(Former Dodger) Wes Parker does some baseball teaching at the Braille 
> Institute, and he talked to me about coming over there and talking to some 
> of the students. I did, and that along with the fact that I have some 
> friends who train guide dogs intrigued me a little bit. Then I met Lorri, 
> learned about her story, and went out to the Guide Dogs of America complex 
> in Sylmar (where Bernson is a public relations and community liaison). I 
> saw the program and the great things that they do providing guide dogs, 
> and I immediately committed to it."
> On many game days, Colletti also auctions off special items at the tables 
> you see throughout Dodger Stadium, with the highest bidder being able to 
> go on the field to meet Don Mattingly, then spend some time with the GM 
> during the game.
> "All the money raised goes directly to the guide dogs," Colletti proudly 
> reported. "I have great respect for what they do at GDA, the people who 
> raise the dogs on their own, and how it adds so much to the lives of 
> people who are really in need."
> Bernson and boyfriend Matt Kells practiced daily for about six weeks, with 
> Bernson wearing her baseball glove and wearing a Dodger blue T-shirt while 
> going through her pitching workout. She was joined on the field by other 
> visually challenged people, guide dog trainers and their puppies, and 
> during the game there were more than 300 GDA benefactors and beneficiaries 
> in the stands. It was a huge moment for the GDA, and being the first 
> person to have a guide dog sponsored by Colletti and the Dodgers is an 
> honor for Bernson, something that helps make the whole experience as 
> rewarding for Colletti as it is for Bernson.
> "No doubt," he said. "No doubt.
> "I never forget where I'm from, and how when I was growing up we always 
> had to have people helping us out. I think that's the way the world should 
> be, and I want to be able to help a person, make a positive impact on 
> their life. Half of it is knowing you can help them, but the other half is 
> that it lets someone know that you really care.
> "When you think about (Lorri) losing her vision, when she had her it for 
> 33 years, and how much her world changed, that's not easy for anyone to go 
> through that. And it's more than just spending time with them. You can 
> spend ten or fifteen minutes with a person, but after you leave, they 
> still have the same challenges. When I got involved in this, I wanted to 
> make sure that anything I was able to do had a lasting impact, again so 
> they know that someone out there really cares."
> Bernson said that's exactly what Colletti has done.
> "He came to the school for a tour in December of 2009 and decided that he 
> wanted make a donation and do a sponsorship so he could see the end 
> result. He didn't want the money to just go into the general fund; he 
> wanted to get to know the people who he'd be helping.
> "I was in the process of retiring my first guide dog, Nigel, which was a 
> very hard thing for me to do, and after the tour that day and him making 
> the commitment to (GDA), I sent him an email and said that I'd be honored 
> if he'd consider sponsoring my next dog, even though I didn't know yet who 
> my next dog would be. I promised him that he'd definitely see the end 
> result and that my dog and I would continue to be a part of his life. He 
> wrote back and said ‘make it happen.’ So, he and the Dodgers ended up 
> sponsoring Carter and me, and I received Carter in January of 2010.
> "It was perfect timing."
> Soon Colletti was getting regular updates on Carter and Bernson, and it 
> wasn't long before Bernson came up with the idea of throwing the 
> ceremonial first pitch as a way to put the spotlight on GDA and the 
> wonderful services it provides to the visually handicapped.
> "I actually said to myself on the day that I met Ned that I was going to 
> throw out the first pitch someday. I really needed to make it happen 
> because it would be a great way to promote what we do. And since he and 
> the Dodgers were now making a serious monetary (commitment), it just 
> seemed like a natural thing to do. When I finally told Ned about my idea, 
> we talked a little bit about it. I just had it in my head that I wanted to 
> do it for the exposure for the school. Yes, I would be doing it because it 
> was something I'd love to do, but because (GDA) gave me such an incredible 
> gift in Nigel and then Carter, me throwing out the first pitch and getting 
> the publicity for the school was a big way that I could give back.
> "It's an amazing opportunity to get out there in the middle of the field 
> as a blind person and accomplish it. No matter where the ball ended up, I 
> can say I did it. And I'm helping the school as well. After I lost my 
> sight, they helped me get my independence back with the gifts of Nigel and 
> now Carter, and there's no way I can ever pay them back for that. But in a 
> small way, by throwing out that first pitch, it will give Guide Dogs of 
> America a little of the exposure they deserve, not just for what they did 
> for me, but what they've done and continue to do to give people their 
> lives back. And that makes me feel great, because I'll be able to reach 
> many, many more people than I could if I'd have never gotten this chance."
> Colletti is constantly amazed at Bernson and her drive to live life to its 
> fullest every moment.
> "When you spend any time with her, it's so great to watch how she tries to 
> live her life the same way she did before she lost her sight. Obviously, 
> that's a really tough thing to do, but she doesn't let anything get in the 
> way of her at least trying to live that life. She's a very special 
> person."
> (For more information, go to 
> www.guidedogsofamerica.org<http://www.guidedogsofamerica.org/1/>)
> Dale A. Neuman
> Director, Harry S Truman Center for Governmental Affairs
> Special Projects Associate, College of Arts and Sciences
> Professor Emeritus of Political Science
> 816-235-6108 or 816-235-2787
> FAX 816-235-5191
> Neumand at umkc.edu
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