ASPIRE, a Go Fund Me Campaign by Dan Thompson

It is with much admiration and appreciation that I share the following letter received from a subscriber, Dan Thompson.
It is not only inspiring to read about the campaign itself but also to understand Dan’s story and motivation for undertaking this campaign. I wish Dan only the best with all he is doing to give back to those around him.
Here is what he writes:

“Since I’ve started the ASPIRE Go Fund Me Campaign in may 2017, , eleven individuals between ages 30 and 65 have now experienced serious changes in their lives. Three who were afraid to leave their apartments are now exploring the neighborhood with the help of GPS devices designed specifically for blind and low vision persons. The other seven are either volunteering in their community, have returned to taking college classes, or significantly gained new independence around their homes.
Words will not express my graditude for all those who were instrumental in making these dreams come true via financial or equipment donations.
I unfortunately have had some negative responses to this campaign. Comments ranged from
“why bother with those over 55, they should just retire and enjoy life. They had their chance”,
“Isn’t there a grant for that?”, “Perhaps you are trying to help the wrong people. If they couldn’t manage it in college or find a job, how can ASPIRE help?”
My anser is both personal and conviction.
In 1973 I was told it would be a waste of state funding to send me to college. I was reaching for a dream totally out of my ability.
Fortunately God blessed me with a wrestling coach in grade and high school who installed a “never quit” attitude. The greatest power of encouragement in this world was my Wife who also never gave up on me.
Five years later, a new Rehab Counslor who believed in the impossible took a chance. College was finished with honors projects taken in every class. Thirty five years later, I am joyfully retired and trying to give back.
Everyone deserves a chance to prove themselves and/or enjoy life to the highest level of their potential. Perhaps the right conditions were not in place or opportunities made available for a person to
“aspire” and do the impossible in their life.
As a youth and on into my adulthood, I confess to frequently wondering just how could I ever make any significant change that would matter much in this world? “It cannot be done” was heard some many times, I even started believing it myself. My Mother, God Rest her soul, frequently said I was retarded and would only end up on public aide. As my faith matured and through occasional glances into the past, what was once a mystery to me has a new clarity. Perhaps God allowed life’s climb to be challenging so when sharing my journey, it may encourage others to “ASPIRE” to success once considered out of their reach.
My volunteer work with adults of all ages now is dedicated to giving those who fel through the cracks or what some consider “over the hill” to have any aspirations a new chance. Just because someone over 50 doesn’t have a vocational goal, gaining independence and self-esteem is still extremely important to them.
Even if someone couldn’t jump through all those hoops for getting gainful employment, there may be hidden awesome potential in there. Disabled persons are still very “able!”
Please give my ASPIRE Campaign another look. Perhaps there’s unused equipment you’ve tucked away or thought no one uses it anymore. It may be old. However, that same piece of equipment will provide a new portal to a world otherwise out of limits for a person who is blind or has low vision.
Any amount of funds will be put towards helping someone’s dream of independence come true.
Be a visionary who brings renewed vision for a person’s future.

“Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
Luke 6:38)

Please consider visiting for the first time or revisiting my Go Fund Me Campaign.
Campaign link for go fund me
https://www.gofundme.com/aspire-devices-for-the-disabled
Thank you for your interest in my mission and for taking the time to read my proposal.
Dan Thompson

Below is a list of items I am still trying to make available.
Ten Victor Reader Trekks Stream New Generations:
This is a GPS, book storage, and recording device all in one.
Cost $599.00 each if ordered before October. $700.00 if ordered after October.
Total cost of $5990.00 before October or 7,000.00 after October.
5 Blaze Ez Hand held digital recorder and scanner @ $600.00 each or $3,000.00
Five Braille writers from Perkins School for the Blind: $800.00 times five equals $4,000.00
Ten boxes of braille paper for $29.00 a box, thus $290.00 for ten boxes.
Ten slate and styluses at $15.00 each or a total of $150.00.
Five laptops @ $700.00 each equals $3,500.00

I directly contact all recipients receiving equipment and provide one on one free training, and they must prove competency on the device before they may take their computer or assistive tech device home.”

Dan also compiles two free e-mail newsletters.
1. Subscribe to Friday Finds by sending a blank email with “subscribe dan’s tips” in the subject line to
dmt031073@gmail.com
2. Subscribe to “Hotspot With God” daily devotion by sending a blank message with “subscribe devotion” in the subject line to
dmt031073@gmail.com

These Gorgeous Designer Gowns Are Made By Blind Dressmakers

As someone who likes to do sewing as a craft myself, I found the article I am sharing today quite interesting and inspirational. My mom loved to sew all kinds of things and my dad taught me how to operate, clean and manage a sewing machine. I have since come across quite a few blind people who do sewing and quilting by hand or machine. We have all shared the adaptations we have made and the alternative techniques we use, but as is evident from this article, being open to an idea in the first place and exploring ways to make that idea happen in practice, is one of the most important ways to help us all reach beyond what is generally expected or thought to be possible.

I hope you will join me in spreading this positive message far and wide.

The full article can be found at heading level 1 at
https://www.fastcompany.com/40426236/the-blind-seamstresses-who-make-designer-gowns

lighthouse-announces-the-holman-prize-for-blind-ambition/”>

I would like to share the link below in spite of the fact that the closing date for entries is just two days away.

Many or perhaps most of us are quite comfortable with our fairly familiar environments and predictable daily routines, but, there are, among us, those who could be described as true adventurers or explorers. Blindness or other disabilities are not likely to stop those who feel the need to conquer the unknown, no matter what adaptations they have to make to achieve their goals. In fact,
constant adaptations and innovations may just be one of the advantages needed for success in this competition. However, the Holman prizes are not only about an exploration of the physical world by blind or visually impaired people. It has a much wider scope as described in the post at the link below.

“The ideal candidate is someone who is willing to probe their environment and eager to savor the richness of a world that is so often thought of as inaccessible to the blind. This exploration may involve travel, community organizing, scholarship, daring art or projects we haven’t even considered. We’re looking for intrepid travelers, creative problem solvers, effective communicators, natural ambassadors, passionate advocates, joyful builders, active boundary-pushers and experience seekers.”

Good luck to all participants. For more information, visit
LightHouse Announces the Holman Prize for Blind Ambition | LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Weaving Positive Threads into the Garments we Wear

Maribel Steel is an Australian writer and motivational speaker who happens to be blind.
In the introduction to her insightful article called “8 Threads to Weave into the Garment of Change”, she writes:

“When I began to lose my eyesight, it was natural to fear losing so many other aspects of my life that I treasured. Becoming an artist and failing to see colour was one of them. But the hardest hurdle to overcome was knowing how to weave positive threads into the xgarment with the label of disabled.”

I found there is a lot I could relate to in this article. I am sharing it in the hope you will find some insight and inspiration from it too.

You can read this and many other thought-provoking and practical articles by visiting
At the Gateway to Blindness: 8 Threads to Weave into the Garment of Change

From here you can also read more about her work for various organizations and find links to her other blogs and sites she writes for.

This blind Apple engineer is transforming the tech world at only 22

I am sharing a link to an article that was recently passed on to me. Apart from the interesting information, what stayed with me was the reminder which appears towards the end of the article.
“[Blindness] does not define you or what you can do in life.”
To read, go to
http://mashable.com/2016/07/10/apple-innovation-blind-engineer/#FRqx54k3gOq5

TED Talk by Elise Roy – When we design for disability, we all benefit

I found the talk mentioned below very interesting. We often forget that, as disabled people, we might have experiences that may be different from the norm.
Our experiences could sometimes be negative, but this speaker sheds some light on how disability could help to benefit those around us.

Here is the description from the TED page:

“I believe that losing my hearing was one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received,” says Elise Roy. As a disability rights lawyer and design thinker, she knows that being Deaf gives her a unique way of experiencing and reframing the world — a perspective that could solve some of our largest problems. As she says: “When we design for disability first, you often stumble upon solutions that are better than those when we design for the norm.”

Driving Blind Documentary – Now on iTunes

Driving Blind, a feature length documentary is now available on iTunes.
Two brothers, Tod and Justin Purvis faced with a rare genetic disease that causes blindness (Choroideremia), decide to take the road trip of a lifetime around the United States and see everything possible before going blind. Exploring large cities and small towns, camping in national parks, pushing themselves to their limits while meeting strangers and making new friends, Driving Blind is the story of appreciating what you have, while you have it. The film is a portrait of what makes America beautiful, what really matters in life, and what we as human beings do with our short time here.
Actors
Tod Purvis
Justin Purvis
Director
Brian James Griffo
Driving Blind: $7.99
View on iTunes at
https://itun.es/us/_2URbb


‘I felt as if I had become fear itself’: life after a stroke at 34

When film-maker Lotje Sodderland had a severe stroke, she lost the ability to speak, read, write or think coherently. Could she learn to live – and love – with a broken brain?

My Beautiful Broken Brain is Lotje’s documentary about her recovery, made with director Sophie Robinson.

You can read more at
‘I felt as if I had become fear itself’: life after a stroke at 34 | Society | The Guardian

TED Talk by Dennis Hong – Making a Car for Blind Drivers

In this very interesting TED talk Dennis Hong explains not only the technology behind the car that was developed, but he touches on how these types of technologies could benefit all people e.g. when driving in bad weather conditions, and blind people in everyday life and educational settings.

The ideas put forward are not only positive in general, but it is encouraging to notice how much emphasis is placed on independence of blind people.

Here is the description from the TED page:
” Using robotics, laser rangefinders, GPS and smart feedback tools, Dennis Hong is building a car for drivers who are blind. It’s not a “self-driving” car, he’s careful to note, but a car in which a non-sighted driver can determine speed, proximity and route — and drive independently.”

TED Talk by Martin Pistorius – How my mind came back to life — and no one knew …

At age 12, Martin Pistorius fell into a coma, and spent 13 years locked inside his body, unable to communicate — until a caregiver noticed his eyes responded to her.
Using a computer with synthetic speech, Martin tells his story in this moving TED talk.
His story is also related in detail in his book “Ghost Boy”.

You will find the “play” button near the top of the page.