Making Connections at the Redefining Vision Luncheon

Check out full audio of the event, or download an mp3 by right-clicking the “Download” link below:

Play

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!

 

 

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:

Play

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.”