Ethel L. Dupar Fragrant Garden Blooms with Support for the Lighthouse

King County Master Gardener Helen Weber leading a guided tour at Redefining Vision In Bloom

King County Master Gardener Helen Weber leading a guided tour at Redefining Vision In Bloom

Submitted by Julie Brannon, ECS Support Services Manager  & Braille Instructor

It was a great pleasure to spend time with our guests at the Redefining Vision In Bloom event on Saturday, August 17th.  We had about 20 guests join us that beautiful morning for a fun and educational presentation.  It’s always an honor for me to get to talk to people about the benefits of braille, which I did that morning with the added delight of connecting it to experiencing the Ethel L. Dupar Fragrant Garden.  Guests also had the opportunity to hear details about The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc.’s history from our President and CEO Kirk Adams.  And as always, our guests were fascinated by the personal tour by King County Master Gardener Helen Weber. The Redefining Vision In Bloom events have raised nearly $4,000 in support of our mission.  If you haven’t had the chance to have hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and a personal garden tour then you need to join our final event of the season on September 14th, 11:00am to 1:00pm.  Sign up on our RSVP page.

Thanks for a great start to our “In Bloom” Garden Series!

Our July Redefining Vision: In Bloom event proved to be a wonderful evening in The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc.’s Ethel L. Dupar Fragrant Garden.  This unique garden was designed specifically for people who are blind or Deaf-Blind, with over sixty different fragrant plants that appeal both to the sense of smell and touch.  Our guests got the opportunity to hear from our Government Relations Specialist Mark Landreneau who talked about the tools and supports that make it possible for him to do his job.  Donations from generous donors at Redefining Vision: In Bloom support our mission to create and enhance opportunities for independence and self-sufficiency of people who are blind, Deaf-Blind, and blind with other disabilities.  These gifts help fund our Employee and Community Services, such as those Mark discussed personally using including Orientation and Mobility training and tactile American Sign Language interpreting.   After Mark’s insightful remarks, Master Gardener Helen Weber hosted a captivating tour for our guests, who got to learn about the specific plants and Helen’s gardening techniques which allow this community treasure to thrive.

If you weren’t able to attend this month, there are two more chances this summer!  We’re offering two more Redefining Vision: In Bloom events on upcoming Saturdays, August 17th and September 14th, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  You can find more information and register at

The 2013 Redefining Vision Luncheon was a huge success!


Keynote Speaker Brett Lewis

Keynote Speaker Brett Lewis addresses the crowd at the 2013 Redefining Vision Luncheon

Thank you for supporting Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind Foundation! Our 2013 Redefining Vision Luncheon was a huge success!  Over $77,000 was raised for our Supported Employment Program, which provides employment and support for individuals who are blind or Deaf-Blind with a developmental disability.  It was a fantastic presentation by Program Manager Jodie O’Flaherty and Supported Employee Eric Swanson.

We’d especially like to express our appreciation for Emcee Barbara Ross and Keynote Speaker Brett Lewis.  And of course, a very big thank you to our dedicated volunteers and amazing sponsors… we couldn’t have done it without you!

If you were unable to attend, you can still support our mission to create and enhance opportunities for independence and self-sufficiency of people who are blind, Deaf-Blind, and blind with other disabilities.

Braille Raffle Drawing To Be Held at 2013 Redefining Vision Luncheon

As part of Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind Foundation’s 2013 Redefining Vision Luncheon, we’re raffling off an amazing getaway package!  The prize will be drawn at the close of event on March 27 at the Westin Seattle Hotel.  If you haven’t already registered to join us at the Luncheon this year, please visit for more information.

Palm Desert, CaliforniaBraille Raffle Prize:  Palm Desert Vacation!  A one-week stay in a lovely, newly-remodeled condo home at Silver Sands, Palm Desert, California.  Prize includes airfare for two!

This one-of-a-kind getaway is a two-bedroom, two-bath Spanish-style home at the Silver Sands Racquet Club.  This 1,240 square-foot desert hideaway is close to wonderful restaurants, public golf courses, and incredible shopping.

It has two baths, a private courtyard and additional patio viewing, a granite and stainless steel kitchen, dishwasher, gas fireplace, patio, wine refrigerator, and gas fireplace.

(Must be redeemed by March 27, 2014 and other conditions apply).

Raffle tickets are only $20.00 each – or three tickets for $50.00!

Meet Brett Lewis: Judo Gold Medalist and Sensei

Keynote Speaker Brett Lewis

Keynote Speaker Brett Lewis

Developed in Japan in 1882, Judo is a mutually beneficial sport for everyone involved, including blind and visually impaired athletes.

Meaning “the gentle way” Judo require a lot of self-discipline, structure, and strategy.

Brett Lewis, the keynote speaker for the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind Foundation’s 2013 Redefining Vision Luncheon on March 27, knows first-hand the challenges and rewards of this competitive martial art.

Originally born in Del Rio, TX, Brett moved to Spokane when he was just five years old.  At age six, he lost his sight due to a post-surgical infection.  Always an active child, he never let his lack of vision prevent him from being physically active, taking up Judo, running, and wrestling.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Lewis said in an interview for the Spokane Judo Club, where he serves as Head Sensei.  “The hardest lesson to learn was to always keep trying hard.  When you think you don’t have to anymore, you start slacking and you get lazy.  Then someone comes along who will stomp you into the ground and you’ll realize you’ve gotten lazy.”

This dedication paid off for Lewis when in 1987, he became the first American Judo competitor to win the Gold Medal in both his weight division and the open division at the World Championships for the Blind.  He also earned the Silver Medal in the subsequent 1992 Paralympics in Barcelona, Spain.

Lewis attended Stanford University, earning both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in math and engineering.  Prior to returning to Spokane in 2001, Brett worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency, the US Mission at NATO, the RAND Corporation.  He currently telecommutes to his job as a software engineer for Freedom Scientific.  Brett is also the proud father of two boys, Lucas and Miles.

Besides improved physical fitness, Judo can be attributed to increased confidence, defined character, and mutual respect.  Judo is based on two major principles, maximum efficient use of energy and mutual prosperity for self and others.

The goal is to win decisively.  To be successful, players must rely on their perception of the strength and behavior of the opponent and choose the appropriate reaction or defense technique.

“It is all about leverage and balance,” said Lewis.

But of course, no one wins every match and one must also learn humility.  “It’s just you out there on the mat, there’s no team to blame it on if things go bad, and some people don’t stick with it when they lose,” said Lewis. “But if you can leave
the match knowing you’ve done the very best you could, well, then there’s
really nothing wrong with losing.”

Thank you for joining us at the Redefining Vision Holiday Breakfast!

Guests at the 2012 Redefining Vision Breakfast

During this season of giving, thank you for joining us to celebrate our community’s generosity.

The Redefining Vision Holiday Breakfast honored our Society for Redefining Vision and Lighthouse Legacy Societydonors like you who give so generously to support opportunities in the blind and Deaf-Blind community.

We hope you enjoyed the opportunity to visit Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs.  Thank you again for joining us, and for your consistent support of the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind Foundation.

Thank you to Northern Trust for their support of this year’s Redefining Vision Holiday Breakfast!

Inland Northwest White Cane Walk and Redefining Vision Wine Tasting

On October 18th, Inland Northwest Lighthouse celebrated the independence of individuals who are blind or visually impaired with two events.  We began the day with a White Cane Walk in honor of October’s National White Cane Safety Day.  That was followed by an intimate evening in support of INL at the historic Flour Mill, at the Redefining Vision Wine Tasting.

The White Cane Walk took place in Spokane’s Riverfront Park, where we heard from Spokane Mayor David Condon, State Representative Andy Billig, INL Employee Kurt Lance, and Lighthouse President and CEO Kirk Adams.  Following our speakers, Lighthouse Orientation and Mobility staff members demonstrated methods of being a sighted guide to people who are blind.  Next came the White Cane Walk, in which white cane users and sighted guests who donned vision simulation goggles and blindfolds walked a predetermined course through Riverfront Park. The course of the walk offered various types of terrain, in order to give examples of navigating a path for individuals who are partially sighted or blind.

That evening, it was time for our Redefining Vision Wine Tasting, an event that raised nearly $1,800 for employment opportunities and programs for individuals who are blind or visually impaired at INL. The Flour Mill, located on the banks of the Spokane River, features a hidden secret in its lower level – the Chateau Rive.  The historic space took guests back in time, creating an interesting backdrop to the wine taste challenge and presentations by INL employee Greg Wing, INL Council Chair Lorna Walsh, and INL’s Development and Public Relations Director Shawn Dobbs.  After our speakers for the evening shared their stories, we were delightfully entertained by live singing and guitar playing by INL employee Greg Szabo.

Redefining Vision Took Flight on September 22nd!


Chris Loomis, Keynote Speaker of the evening, presents his personal story of discovering meaningful employment at The Lighthouse as a machinist.


On Saturday, September 22nd Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind Foundation celebrated its fall Redefining Vision Takes Flight event. Over 65 friends and supporters joined us at the Museum of Flight’s historic Red Barn to celebrate and support our mission of creating and enhancing opportunities for independence and self-sufficiency for individuals who are blind, Deaf-Blind, and blind with other disabilities.  The event raised approximately $8,000 in support of this mission.  Thank you to everyone who participated that night.

The fascinating venue highlighted the long relationship between The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. and The Boeing Company, as the Red Barn is the original manufacturing facility of The Boeing Co.

Set-Up Machinist Chris Loomis shared his moving story of finding the Lighthouse as a place to work after searching 46 other states for an organization that could offer him meaningful employment.  He demonstrated how accessibility measures such as American Sign Language interpreting, the addition of a large monitor, and use of calipers with a large visual display allow him to operate an Okuma machine, which produces precision parts for aerospace customers.  Chris was one of the Lighthouse’s Employees of the Year in 2010.  President and CEO Kirk Adams expressed that the Lighthouse was fortunate to have attracted someone with Chris’ skills and dedication.

We’d also like to thank Foundation President Howie Dickerman for his remarks and Otis Kenyon Winery of Walla Walla for donating a magnum of 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon as the prize for our Braille Raffle.

The 2012 Redefining Vision Luncheon Was a Great Success!

Keynote Speaker Patricia Walsh speaking at the 2012 Redefining Vision Luncheon
Keynote Speaker Patricia Walsh speaking at the 2012 Redefining Vision Luncheon


Thank you to all of our guests and sponsors who participated in the 2012 Redefining Vision Luncheon!  We hope you were inspired by the stories of opportunities and empowerment for individuals who are blind, Deaf-Blind, and blind with other disabilities. The event generated over $75,000 toward Lighthouse accessibility initiatives.  We are so grateful for your commitment to the Lighthouse.

We would also like to thank our wonderful volunteers, our emcee Cyrus Habib, our Accessibility Manager Peggy Martinez, and our Keynote speaker Patricia Walsh.

Listen to Keynote Speaker Patricia Walsh’s remarks here:


If you were unable to attend the event but would like to support Lighthouse accessibility initiatives, it’s not too late!  DONATE NOW

Meet our Emcee: Cyrus Habib

Cyrus Habib, Keynote speaker for our Holiday Breakfast in December 2011, will be our emcee for the 2012 Redefining Vision Luncheon. We are excited about his continued involvement with the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind Foundation.

Cyrus makes his living as an attorney at Perkins Coie in Bellevue, WA.  Who he is and what he has accomplished will take a bit more space to explore.  Blind since the age of 9 due to a childhood cancer, retinoblastoma, Cyrus never let fear of the unknown hold him back. In an interview on the January, 13 2012 edition of KUOW Weekday (See complete interview HERE), Cyrus talks about how his parent’s attitude helped him shape his view on life:

“I was in third grade, and you know as kids do at recess time, all my peers would go and play on the jungle gym and monkey bars. And the recess monitors, knowing that I had just lost my vision and probably, I suspect, also knowing that my mother is a litigator, decided that it was too dangerous for me to be playing up on the monkey bars. So, they kept me by the side of the school with them: pretty segregated. So, this was hugely dispiriting. So, I went to my parents and I told them about how unhappy I was with the current state of affairs. My mom went to the school, she took me with her, and she said: I’m going to take my son to the playground on the weekends, I’m going to teach him how to get around the jungle gym, and he’s going to learn it as well as any other kid knows it. And, she said: I’ll sign any liability waiver you want, but he’s going to get on that jungle gym, and it may happen that he might slip and fall and break his arm, that’s a fear that any mother has. But, I can fix a broken arm I can never fix a broken spirit. My parents decided, as they told me years later that they were not going to let their fear become my fear. That really set the tone for me for life. This disability that I have at a young age is not going to affect my dreams or my pursuit of those dreams.”

Cyrus grew up in Bellevue, attending the Bellevue International School, which ranked 12th in the nation on Newsweek Magazine‘s list of the best high schools for 2007.  However, even the best institution can have weaknesses, and Cyrus amended his education through classes at Bellevue College:

“I am passionate about Bellevue College because years ago my high school’s inability to accommodate math and science classes had led me to take those portions of my high school curriculum there. Their creative approach towards teaching me topics that are seemingly entirely visual, instilled in me an enduring respect for the value of such institutions.”

In his first foray into higher education Cyrus studied Literature at Columbia University in New York, then at University of Oxford in the UK. In addition to being a Rhodes Scholar, Cyrus is also a Truman Scholar and a Soros Fellow. Upon graduating with a Masters in Literature, though, he switched his focus to attend Yale Law School. In an interview with friend and fellow Rhodes Scholar, Chesa Boudin (See complete article HERE) Cyrus explains his choice:

“I reached a point where I felt as though I was speaking into an echo chamber…  I decided that the issues I was addressing on a theoretical level, namely the relationship between visual experience and the formation of power dynamics, was in fact a phenomenon that could use my involvement outside the ivory tower. I realized that I would start with issues facing other blind individuals — not necessarily the most obvious ones — and see where that took me.”

While in law school, Cyrus was editor of the Yale Law Journal.  And, it was at Yale where he first became interested in the role currency plays in accessibility.

“As a first year law student at Yale, I learned of a recent court ruling in Washington D.C. District Court that U.S. currency is inaccessible to the blind because bills are only distinguishable visually. I was intrigued, and soon enough found myself wrapped up in that cause. I co-authored, along with another Rhodes Scholar and Yale classmate, Jonathan Finer, an amicus brief at the appellate level, authored an op-ed in the Washington Post and other forums, and eventually testified before Congress on how best to adapt U.S. currency to become accessible to America’s blind and low-vision population as well.”

Cyrus is a Human Services Commissioner for the City of Bellevue, and sits on the board of directors of the Bellevue College Foundation and the Bellevue Downtown Association. In 2009 he was appointed by King County Executive Dow Constantine to serve as a King County Civil Rights Commissioner. A former Trustee of the Washington Young Lawyers Division, he has served on a number of Bar committees and task forces. He is also active in the Bellevue Rotary Club. Cyrus is currently running for State Representative for the 48th District. In an article for the Washington Post in 2007 titled “Show us the Money”, Cyrus makes a call to action that the Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. hopes to reflect:

“When it comes to accommodating disabilities such as blindness, let us continue to lead the world in practice as well as in principle. More important still, let us tell the world that we, too, believe that blindness should not be an obstacle to financial independence. In doing so, let us also take a significant step toward ameliorating the living conditions of blind Americans, now and for years to come.”