Making Connections at the Redefining Vision Luncheon

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Our 2014 Redefining Vision Luncheon was one of our best events yet!  Thank you to all our community supporters for joining us at The Westin on Wednesday, April 9th and helping us raise $100,000 to benefit The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc.’s annual Deaf-Blind Retreat!

Seahawk Derrick Coleman, Jr. at the Meet and Greet portion of the Redefining Vision Luncheon

Seahawk Derrick Coleman, Jr. at the Meet and Greet portion of the Redefining Vision Luncheon

It all started with a special VIP Meet & Greet with our featured speaker, Derrick Coleman Jr., fullback/running back for the NFL Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks.  He shook hands, signed autographs, took photos, and met about 30 employees, board members, and Lighthouse community members.  Derrick was personable, relaxed, and funny!  We were so glad to have him at the Luncheon!

Lighthouse employees and musicians Andrew Stauffer (left) and Peggy Martinez (right) performing at the Redefining Vision Luncheon

Lighthouse employees and musicians Andrew Stauffer (left) and Peggy Martinez (right) performing at the Redefining Vision Luncheon

At 11:30 a.m. we enjoyed the musical stylings of several Lighthouse employees, Peggy Martinez and Andrew Stauffer.  They played several fun and upbeat covers as well as an original acoustic piece written by Andrew.  They are both incredibly talented musicians and it was nice to have some entertainment while guests socialized.

Our emcee, Rep. Cyrus Habib of the 48th Legislative District, Washington State house of Representatives, started the program at noon while lunch was served.  Cyrus is a natural public speaker and he easily kept the audience engaged and excited for every moment of our incredible program full of inspirational stories of empowerment and independence.

Rep. Cyrus Habib emcee'ing the Redefining Vision Luncheon

Rep. Cyrus Habib emcee’ing the Redefining Vision Luncheon

Cyrus shared some of his own journey as a young blind child growing up in public schools and being left alone on the playground.  He reminded everyone that teaching children and adults the proper skills such as braille, adaptive technology, and orientation and mobility is essential for building confidence and becoming a thriving community member.  He explained that that’s why the Lighthouse’s mission is also so important in creating those opportunities for independence and self-sufficiency for people who are blind, Deaf-Blind, and blind with other disabilities.

Deaf-Blind Retreat Coordinator aj granda speaking at the luncheon

Deaf-Blind Retreat Coordinator aj granda speaking at the luncheon

Cyrus then introduced our employee speaker aj granda, Deaf-Blind Education and Retreat Coordinator.  aj started her presentation by explaining to the audience that as a Deaf-Blind individual, she relies on physical connection.  Since she cannot see or hear the audience, she asked us to stomp on the floor and create vibrations that she could feel to know she wasn’t alone in the room.  She also had everyone reach out and touch the person next to them and then showed us the sign for “connection” in American Sign Language.

Luncheon guests connecting with one another during the program

Luncheon guests connecting with one another during the program

We were all very excited to hear about The Lighthouse for the Blind Inc.’s annual Deaf-Blind Retreat that takes place in beautiful Seabeck, WA each August.  aj shared that the Retreat offers Deaf-Blind individuals access to information and relationship-building activities in a fully-accessible environment.  The Retreat features educational seminars, recreational activities, and most importantly the chance to network and make connections with other members of the Deaf-Blind community.  She shared that none of this would be possible without the 120-150 volunteer interpreter/guides who put in nearly 7,000 of volunteer time in a one-week period.

We are incredibly grateful to have the support of such a great community!  As aj reminded us, Seattle has a world-class Deaf-Blind community and it takes your support year-round to make this possible!

Finally, Cyrus introduced Derrick Coleman, the first offensive deaf player in the NFL.  Derrick answered several questions, asked by aj granda, about his childhood, communications strategies, and experiences as a deaf person.  He inspired us with his confidence and story of empowerment.  He made the audience laugh when he said “If someone tells me I can’t do something I say, watch me!” and deepened our own independence by saying “nothing more painful than the pain of regret.”

Featured guest Derrick Coleman, Jr. of the Seattle Seahawks (right) speaking during the Luncheon

Featured guest Derrick Coleman, Jr. of the Seattle Seahawks (right) speaking during the Luncheon

It truly was an incredible event and thanks again to our community for your ongoing support!  A special thank you to our volunteers, table captains, Luncheon Committee members, and sponsors!

If you were unable to attend but would still like to support our mission, you can make a gift online.  Thank you!