Have you ever had someone that is blind visit and speak at your school when you were a kid?
There is more information about blindness available online these days, but the opportunity to chat with someone in person that is blind is actually quite rare, even with the millions of people with visual impairments.
What would you ask someone that is blind?
Did you know that there are people out there climbing the highest mountain peaks, cycling across the country, participating in Nordic Biathlon and even kayaking the Grand Canyon all while being completly in the dark?
How do they participate in these intense activities?
This is what one of our programs is about...raising awareness of what people with disabilities are capable of doing...and how they do it.
A little history:
About two years ago the founders and a volunteer of Blind Endeavors Foundation visited the Illinois School for the Visually Impaired. Steve Baskis, a blinded veteran and adventurer, regularly spoke at schools but this time we did something a little different.
We made the presentation a little more interactive...
We brought in cycling, skiing, climbing and kayaking gear to show the students and since they had limited to no vision, they were also able to touch everything. Steve shared his story of losing his eyesight and also some of the techniques and stories of all the equipment that was brought in.
The students (and everyone else) loved it and you could actually hear and see the imaginations and dreams start to develop. One student had a hand issue on top of being blind and she said that she would love to kayak with her mother. We shared a resource of a company that makes adaptive devices for kayaking. Another student showed interest in wanting to learn how to climb. The dreams continued throughout the day...
Nearly 100 students, staff and instructors showed up. After a couple hours we were worried about the time and they said not to worry about it as the students were getting more from this school visit than they would during a typical school day.
At the end of the day after listening to all the positive responses, we decided that the program had to continue.
We didn't charge the school for the visit as budget cuts make presentations like this difficult for schools to afford. Through generous donors, and the time from volunteers, we are able to give this experience to schools at no cost and we would like to continue with the campaign with this model of "no fee".
More about the 50 Schools / 50 States Campaign:
We'll visit grade schools to universities and interact with students of all abilities. Our goal is to make people more aware of what adaptive athletics is all about. We want to inspire students and non-students to think more deeply about how they can contribute to the new revolution!
What makes our school visits different is the interaction. Rather than just listenting to a speech, students are immersed into the experience, kind of like an upscale show and tell. This concept especially helps those with visual impairments. We now bring in dressed up mannequins, VR Goggles and working on 3D sound and other "interactive stations".
Just a few of the schools we have visited:
Illinois School for the Visually Impaired
Illinois State University
Thomas Metcalf School
Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind
Pomona Northside Elementary
University of Central Oklahoma
And the list goes on...
One of our many goals is to visit at least one school in each state. As you can imagine, this is a lot of time on the road, so we do it when the time and budget allows. This brings us to the purpose of this fundraiser...
Blind Endeavors Foundation has been accepted into the Newman’s Own Foundation Holiday Challenge. A total of $500,000 can be won through a series of challenges between November 21st and January 3rd.
We are taking this opportunity to raise funds for a vehicle that plays an integral part in completing our mission. A generous person is loaning a nearly new passenger van to Blind Endeavors. We would like to purchase this van and make it officially Blind Endeavors vehicle. The vehicle is one of our largest expenses but extremely important to haul around the gear for the school visits and participants for our programs.
We would like to raise enough funds to pay for the van, insurance and maintenance for the next year, and a roof rack. If we meet the $50,000 goal, this would also take care of fuel and lodging for our 2018 school visits and a couple of programs like Endeavor 101. Anything above $50,000 will go towards future programs and grants to introduce those with visual impairments to outdoor activities.
What do funds support?
- The purchase of our borrowed van. ($35,000)
- Rack for the top of the van to put gear on top ($2000)
- Building a rack system in a trailer to protect some of the equipment that we take with during school visits. ($500)
- School Visits for 2018 (East coast schools, approximately $5,000)
- Additional programs like our "Endeavor 101", Tour of the Canyons Veterans Bike Ride, and much more!
Other ways to help:
- Volunteer! We primarily need local volunteers, but if you have video editing experience, live near a school we are going to visit or have guiding experience, we could possibly use your help.)
- Spread the word! Let others know about the amazing stuff that people with disabilities are capable of. If you know someone that is having a tough time with their disability, reach out to us and if we don't have a program that suits their needs, I'm sure we know one that could.
- Let your local schools know about us! Reaching out to schools with "cold calls" can be quite difficult. If you're a parent, teacher, student or whatever that would like us to come and visit, let your school know.
Thank you for your time and support!
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us.
TO RAISE AWARENESS THROUGH ADVENTURE & EXPLORATION
We want to challenge and inspire people of all abilities to explore new ways of living through movement. Our goal is to promote awareness & education in schools and institutions across America, conduct research & development related to adaptive athletics and build unique unconventional athletic programs & teams to pursue bold endeavors around the world.