A month ago, I visited a group of second graders at Hope Academy as a guest speaker. I was invited to speak since the children were learning about Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan and they wanted a role model to show the kids that dual-sensory challenges doesn’t mean you cannot be full members of society.
I was still recovering from a sinus infection I received after returning from Florida a week before, and nearly lost my voice the day before my guest speaking appointment, so it hurt to talk most of the time. During this time, I gave a short background about my life and how I have accomplished things despite my sensory challenges.
I showed off the use of my iPhone with a Braille display, showing how I was able to communicate via text messaging to understand a non-signer by receiving the text message and reading it in Braille.
After which, I pulled up an email from one of the teachers, Mrs. Foret. containing the list of students’ first names. In between answering questions the children had which my sister, Tara Costenoble, finger-spelled or signed using Signed Exact English, I was typing up the student’s names on card stock using my Perkins Braillewriter. Each student received a bookmark size strip of card stock with their name written twice–once in Uncontracted (Grade 1) and Contracted (Grade 2) Braille.
After I finished all of those names, I then pulled up “Mr. Brown Can Moe Can You?” by Dr. Sues on my phone in a text only PDF document. I still don’t know where I found the strength to read it verbally to the children despite my recent vocal troubles–including all the vocal changes I do when I read the story. While I read off my Braille display, my sister was keeping up with the print edition for the children to be able to see the book. I had to stop when Facebook decided to leave me a notification causing me to lose my place in the document–lesson learned, next time I’ll turn on Do Not Disturb!
Apparently, the children were such inspired, they decided to do a school-wide book sale to help me with my Athlete Development Account under the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA), where I am raising to help purchase a new tandem bike to tackle my first half Ironman race this coming September, with additional funding being able to help pay for other equipment necessary for training, travel expenses, and help pay for my guides where needed.
I found out about the book sale after the fact, and the school wished to present me with the funds raised in person, but I ran into a conflict of transportation. In the end, the school will send the money to USABA to be deposited into my account. In total, they were able to raise $460 from the book sale, with one family matching that amount, and another family contributing $500 for a grand total of $1420. This will bring my balance to $2080., which leaves just $1300 needed to get the tandem bike–so I’m getting closer to my goal.
EDIT (May 31, 2016) I received an email today from Hope Academy, informing me that the check is officially in the mail to USABA as of today, and the actual tally came to $1458!
I would like to take this time to thank the children, staff, and family of Hope Academy for their kind efforts and the hard work they do in the name of our Lord, showing the various things that can be done in the Goodness of God, our Lord.
If I could, I’d hug each and every one of those second graders, along with everyone else.
If you would like to contribute to my fundraising campaign as a personal donation, you can do so by going to my Athlete Development Account page here.
Below are three photos that the school shared with me in the email they sent informing me of the fruits of their labor.