National Federation Of The Blind


April 19, 2009|By sloane brown | sloane brown,

When the National Federation of the Blind held its annual gala this year, it introduced its new name: The Cane Event.

"The cane, which is the symbol of blindness, is a symbol of independence," NFB president Marc Maurer said. "A lot of people think if you become blind, your independence is gone. But we celebrate this event because this cane, in my hand, means I can go wherever I want to ... whenever I'd like to be there. And this is a symbol of the work we do in the National Federation of the Blind."

As folks mingled in the NFB's Jernigan meeting room during cocktail hour, there was more than one thing to celebrate.

"We're really celebrating the community of Baltimore coming together with us around our Braille Readers Are Leaders Literacy Campaign. Only 10 percent of blind children in this country are getting Braille. ... We have an aggressive literacy campaign, rooted right here in Baltimore, across the nation to do something about it," said Mark Riccobono, executive director of the NFB Jernigan Institute.

This cause "has always been special to me," committee member Jay Wachter said.

"The mission is to improve the life of folks, and they're doing it for folks around the world."

"They do a tremendous amount for the community," agreed Paul Swensen, vice president/general manager of Moran Towing Corp.

Being in Baltimore was another cause for celebration, according to James Gashel, vice president of knfb Reading Technology Inc.

"We enjoy the fact that the Baltimore community supports us," he said, "and we like to say thanks."

Raving over Fonda and fundraising

J ane Fonda has won rave reviews for her performance as a woman with ALS - more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease - in the Broadway show 33 Variations. But she had a tougher audience last week when ALS patients from the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins, and their families, attended a performance in New York for a center fundraiser.

So, was it thumbs up or thumbs down?

"She portrayed the character with such grace and elegance," said the center's Liz MacFarlane. "Jane Fonda did a very, very good and sensitive job portraying an ALS patient."

Add another thumbs up for event organizer Emily Ehehalt, who raised $30,000 for the Robert Packard Center that evening.

Crabby over crabs Travel expert Peter Greenberg brought his Peter Greenberg Worldwide radio show to Charm City last Saturday, broadcasting live from the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel. Nancy Hinds, vice president of the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association, says the syndicated show is heard on 140 radio stations around the country with some 1.5 million listeners.

"He loves Baltimore. He comes through a lot. ... He couldn't have been nicer, more gracious."

A funny moment came when he was chatting with Kali's Court co-owner Karen Patten.

"It was hysterical," she says. "He said that he had a very bad experience eating crabs when he was in town years ago, and that he would never do that again unless he was wearing clothes he was going to throw away. He mentioned the mallet. I told him, 'You're not supposed to hit the crab with the mallet. It's for the claws.' He then asked, 'Why didn't anyone tell me that?' "

Somebody give that man a crab-picking lesson!

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