Saturday night in Rochester, New York, the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI) presented the annual Visionary Award. Each year and individual is chosen to receive the award. The person chosen is one who embodies the mission of ABVI: to prepare and empower people who are blind or visually impaired to be self sufficient and contribute to their families and communities.
This year’s award was presented to Jarret. Jarret became legally blind in his mid 40’s. He was an ordinary man. He had a good job and didn’t mind working hard. When vision problems prevented him from doing his job, he found a solution by focusing on the things he could do, and not the things he couldn’t. He worked with his employer and stepped back from his role as chief financial officer to take on a role of systems development, working with computers.
He loved riding a bicycle, so he adapted and learned to ride on the backseat of a tandem bicycle. With his son James, he rode that tandem from Seattle to Rochester in the summer of 2001.The next summer his daughter Mary rode with him from Maine to Rochester, completing the final 500 miles of that coast-to-coast trip.
Through learning to adapt and solve problems for himself, he found he had a passion for helping others do the same. He began volunteering with the organization that counseled him, the Rochester-based Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI).
While advising the group financially for years, Jarret became a member of its board in 1994 and was chairman from 2000 to 2002.
This man Jarret, was my father. When my mother received the visionary award on his behalf this past Saturday night, nearly 300 people were gathered together for the ceremony. They gave her an immediate standing ovation. With grace and poise, she delivered an eloquent “thank you” speech to ABVI and those who support its’ mission. And to all those who honored and loved my father.
I give thanks today to my parents who have given my siblings and me a great example. And to my father Jarret who taught so many of us that no matter what obstacles we are presented with in life, when we look for one, there is always a solution.