[nfbwatlk] 20 years ago next week

Mary Ellen gabias at telus.net
Fri Jul 1 03:19:16 UTC 2011

What a wonderful story!  First convention memories are special.  It's clear
that the scholarship you won was a great investment, both for your life and
for the life of the movement! 

-----Original Message-----
From: nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org [mailto:nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On
Behalf Of Nightingale, Noel
Sent: June 30, 2011 4:25 PM
To: nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org
Subject: [nfbwatlk] 20 years ago next week

NFB of Washington Talk listers:

It will be 20 years ago next week that I attended my first National
Federation of the Blind National Convention.  I had won a scholarship and I
brought with me my folding cane as I assumed that canes would be all the
fashion in New Orleans in 1991.  At the convention, I quickly figured out
that the folding cane was really dorky and I bought myself a telescoping

I only applied for the scholarship because Susie Prows was on the Washington
Department of Services for the Blind advisory council with me and she handed
me a scholarship application and said that I should apply.  Scott LaBarre
was a member  of the scholarship committee and he called to tell me that I
had won an NFB scholarship.  I was so astounded, I hipped and yapped into
the phone with delight.

At the convention, the chairman of the NFB DIG program, Chris Kuczynski,
kept harassing me about my newly purchased telescoping carbon fiber cane
because it only came to my breast bone.  Later, I read in my new
subscription to the Braille Monitor an article by Chris about the pencil
technique , which I quickly adopted.  Over time, I bought successively
longer white canes and grew to prefer straight ones over telescoping, except
for canes I use while on airplanes.

I won the lowest amount scholarship that was possible to get at that
particular national convention.  However, the money, while appreciated, was
a minimal gift to the friendships and inspiration and information that I
have gained as a result of having attended that convention.

I got to know Dan Frye, who spent countless hours with me during law school
helping me develop a philosophy about living as a blind person and who is
now one of my closest friends; Denise and Gary Mackenstadt, who started
inviting Jim and me over to their home and shared their lives with me; Ben
and Susie Prows, who also started inviting us to their home and introduced
me to Hazel tenBroek; Albert Sanchez, who always tried to keep me on my toes
and is one of my role models; and Mike and Barbara Freeman, who liked to
verbally spar with me; Mark and Debbie Noble, who amused me with their
antics and showed me how to live as a blind person with individual desires
and ambitions; and Scott LaBarre, who has become a beloved friend; and many,
many others, some of whom are on this list today and some of whom are not.

Happy anniversary to me!

Your friend and colleague in the movement, Noel

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