The Promoter – August 2017

The Promoter – August 2017

Table of Contents

From the President

Greetings NDAB Members:
In today’s world, people want to be healthy, they want to be happy, but instead they are getting stressed out, depressed, getting less sleep, having more negative thoughts and feeling isolated.

Do you agree with the above statement? Does it apply to you? What can be done about it? The answer to solve the above symptoms may be as simple as EXERCISE!

Try to increase your activity level to obtain the following benefits of exercise:
Exercise of any kind brings more oxygen to the body and brain making one feel more energetic and relaxed.

It reduces the stress and strengthens the immune system.
It changes your mood within minutes by releasing endorphins from your brain.
Positive energy helps people connect with other people quickly, improves relationships and attracts many friends.

NDAB established a committee in 1981 to promote and provide adaptive equipment in order to experience new leisure time sports and activities AND because it is FUN! Hitting a bull’s-eye with electronic darts, throwing a strike while bowling, riding through a city park on a tandem bike and tipping over a canoe are just a few examples of possible activities.

Currently our NDAB Sports and Recreation Committee is a committee of one. Dave Sundeen has faithfully served on this committee for more years than he can remember. I recently talked to him. He is willing to remain on the committee but would welcome some assistance from you!

We are looking for at least two and up to four people willing to be on this committee. We need to focus some renewed energy into promoting healthy activities for our members.

If you have ideas to help reenergize the committee or want to volunteer as a member, call me at 701-493-2399.

Check out articles in this Promoter about Ski for Light and Summer Light. We also will have an opportunity to try out new activities and enjoy some old ones at NDAB Summer Camp.

I want to thank everyone who made the 2017 State Convention a productive and positive one! Thanks to those who planned it, those who helped in any way from providing door prizes, assisting people, helping with meals and snacks, those who provided transportation, mike runners, Sgt of Arms, vendors, speakers….. Especially I want to thank my hardworking and dedicated board members. But most of all I want to express my appreciation to you, the people who made the special effort to attend the convention. Your involvement is vitally important to our organization. Your viewpoint is valued. Besides it is always fun to be with old friends and make new ones while we are together. We look forward to the 2018 Convention in Bismarck! Make plans now to come! It will be June 8, 9 and 10.

May your summer be full of fun activities and don’t forget to EXERCISE!
Zelda Gebhard, NDAB President

From the Editor

I was visiting with a friend the other day, commenting to her that I wondered where April, May and June had gone. She replied, “I’m been looking for them too!” We will soon be hearing ads for “back to school.” How can this possibly be? Some of us will soon gather at the Elks Camp Grassick for a wonderful week of learning and sharing. That means that a year has gone by since our 2016 NDAB Summer Camp! Live life to the fullest, enjoying every day. Time seems to have a way of going much too quickly.

Thanks to President Zelda for sending in the following quote:
“I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized that I am SOMEBODY!” -Lily Tomlin

Loris Van Berkom share this one:
“May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.” -Peter Marshall

If you have a favorite quote or an article that you’d like to share, please email me at

Happy rest of the summer!
Kathy Larson

Welcome New Members

NDAB welcomes the following new members to our organization: Jay Blind of Milwaukee, WI, Cathy Bryce of Devils Lake, and Roy A. Winn, Jr. of Minot.

Edwin Christensen Award Recipient for 2017

It was with honor that the 2017 Ed Christensen Award was presented to Zelda Gebhard at the banquet on Saturday, June 10, at the NDAB 2017 Convention held at The Great American Inn and Suites in Devils Lake, ND.

This award is given to an active NDAB member and is primarily based upon their dedicated service to NDAB.

Zelda is currently our NDAB President, preceded with years as vice president. She also served as the editor of The Promoter for six years. She participated in team work which resulted in developing the Strategic Plan, creating the new Award-winning NDAB brochure, revising the constitution and by-laws, revising the thank you card, sympathy card, the NDAB stationary, and writing the guidelines for the NDAB Vice President Manual.

Zelda has also been very active in ACB. Most recently, she was elected to the board of the Council of Citizens with Low Vision, an affiliate of ACB. She has also been a member of the ACB Derwood McDaniel First Timers Committee and the ACB auction committee. She has been very active as one of our NDAB legislative liaisons for nine years, which has also included being an active member of the ACB Legislative Seminar that is held every year in Washington, D.C., where they meet with our legislators regarding blind issues.

She has been an outstanding teacher at the NDAB Summer Camp for six aromatic years, instructing us in how to bake breads. She has also shared her talent for baking with children at the NDVS/SB kids week.

She is our beloved “Martha” of NDAB in our camp talent shows. I have heard is said that if one had only one sentence to say about Zelda, it would be, “She is a perfect Martha!”

The Edwin Christensen Award is one way in which NDAB can express our thanks.

Thank you, Zelda, for all the dedication and effort you have put into serving NDAB over the past 14 years, including all the years of serving fresh bread at camp.

Respectfully Submitted,
The Edwin Christensen Award Committee,
Carol Schmitt, Shereen Faber, and Kathy Johnson

2017 LePage Award

By Candy Lien

On June 10, 2017, Lion Paul Nelson, of the Gateway Lions Club, was presented with the Robert John LePage Service Award. The award was presented to Lion Nelson by Committee Member Shereen Faber during the banquet of the annual state convention of the North Dakota Association of the Blind at the Great American Inn in Devils Lake, ND. This award is presented annually to a North Dakota Lion who exemplifies the type of quiet, unheralded service that Bob LePage gave to people with vision loss in the state. LePage, a long-time member of the Gateway Lions in Fargo, ND, was known in the Fargo area for providing help and service to all who needed it, those with sight loss. In his name, this award was established in 2009.

In his nomination letter, Club President Byron Klebe stated that Lion Nelson “has provided assistance to people with sight loss for many years and in many ways. He has provided rides to Camp Grassick, rides to Blind bowling league in Fargo, and rides for local appointments. He has organized fundraising for eye surgery, prepared individual tax returns, helped with home repairs and seasonal maintenance.” President Klebe further states that “in one case, Paul took it upon himself to buy a water heater and pay to have it installed for a sight-impaired person in need.”

Coincidentally, Lion Paul Nelson was a good friend of Bob LePage, and they collaborated together on many projects. The plaque that was presented to Lion Nelson reads, “With thanks and appreciation for your ‘vision’ and dedication to people with sight loss in North Dakota,” followed by the motto of the ND Association of the Blind: “Not they who lacks sight, but they who lack vision are blind.”
Congratulations to Lion Paul Nelson for this very well-deserved award!

Members of Our NDAB Family

Submitted by Kathy Larson

We extend our deepest sympathy to Paula Anundson and Connie Ertelt on the death of brother/son William Ertelt, 61 of West Fargo, ND. Bill died Friday, April 28, 2017 at Sanford Health, Fargo. After graduation, Bill worked in various construction jobs and also was a cook until he became disabled. He married Kellie Hoover in December of 1982 and the couple had two sons, Troy and Michael. Bill enjoyed all types of music, old western movies and going to the casino. Bill is survived by his wife Kellie of West Fargo, sons Troy and Michael, both of Fargo, a beautiful granddaughter Selena Rose, five brothers, two sisters and his mother.

We have lost another NDAB member. Ethel Pearl Storm, 96, Mandan, died June 12, 2017 at the Baptist Home in Bismarck. She attended Dubuque schools and graduated from high school in 1939. Ethel worked for many years at Montgomery Wards as a department head sales person. On November 23, 1950 Ethel married Waldemar Storm in the Chapel of the Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque. Waldemar served as a Pastor for 33 years in various parishes in ND, SD, and MN. Ethel was always by his side and worked as his secretary for many years. She was an active member of the churches, serving on many committees. She also taught Sunday school, sang in the choir, belonged to the altar guild, and was active in the Women’s Organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Ethel was a member of the North Dakota Association of the Blind since 1992. A very dedicated wife and mother, Ethel was a great cook, especially her fried chicken and homemade pies. She will be greatly missed by those who knew and loved her. Memorials are preferred to the North Dakota Association of the Blind

Several of you know Beverly Austin of Mott. She attended camp from 2006 to 2013. She cried many tears when she was no longer able to come for that special week. Bev is a strong and beautiful lady, and life has not been so great for her right now. She has been in the nursing home in Mott for rehabilitation after falling in May and breaking her hip. Her husband Merlyn was eating dinner with her at the home the latter part of June, and he had a stroke. He was taken to the hospital in Bismarck where he lived for 12 more days. He passed away on July 2nd at the age of 81. Merlyn was born on the family farm west of Mott. He went to country school and graduated from Mott High School and then attended North Dakota State University while working summers building government grain bins to pay for tuition. Following graduation, he joined the Army and served as a Veterinary Food Inspector for three years. Merlyn and Beverly were married on October 9, 1959 and were parents to three children. Merlyn worked as a Branch Manager at PCA in Fargo, before returning to decades of farming on the family farm. They left the farm and managed several commercial properties in North Dakota, Arkansas, Michigan and Georgia before retiring. During retirement, they traveled the country by RV for many years before finally returning to their home in Mott. Surviving Merlyn is Beverly, his wife of 58 years; his sons, Todd and Tyler; his daughter, Hilary; six grandchildren; a sister and brother and many nieces and nephews. A celebration of life will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 15, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Mott, with lunch and fellowship to follow at the Assembly of God Church in Mott. We extend our deepest sympathy to Bev and her family. I know that she would appreciate your thoughts and prayers. If you care to contact her, her address is as follows: Good Samaritan Nursing Home, 401 Millionaire Avenue, Mott ND  58646.

In Memory of Olga Neal

As I reflect on the life of Olga Neal, there is a lot one could say.

As a former student of hers, I can say without hesitation that she was no doubt the best mentor I could ever have.

Remembering back as a seven-year old boy coming from Cando, North Dakota, to the North Dakota School for the Blind in Grand forks, it was a very difficult thing being away from family for long periods of time.

Olga taught me how to read and write braille and spell, and also worked with me to understand math which at times was a very huge daunting task. But if I can say one thing that I will always remember about her is that she was a huge encourager. I remember three weeks before I was to graduate she took me aside and had one of the most encouraging talks one could ever have!

She was very instrumental in getting me interested in piano tuning. I remember how excited she was when I came to camp in the summer of 1987 with my Piano tuning kit and was watching me as I was tuning the piano in the dining hall, and how proud she was. Afterwards she said to me, “I am going to introduce you to my brother Sam. I think you two would get along great and I think he would be of some help to you.”

In closing I am going to say that we as NDAB members and former students of the School for the Blind, “Olga will be missed!” She will be a person whom we will always remember, and she will remain in the hearts of all of us who had the great distinct honor of knowing her.

Respectfully submitted, Mickey Teubner.

Camp Grassick, Here We Come!

Submitted by Loris Van Berkom & Rick Feldman, Co-Camp Directors

If you sent back your camp application marked with a “Yes” and your choice for classes filled out, you will soon be headed to the Elks Camp Grassick to attend the 47th annual NDAB Summer Camp August 6-13. If not, you will have to read about our camp adventures in the next Promoter issue. We are looking forward to a great week!

2017 Summer Light event

Submitted by Michelle Zentz

Come celebrate with your Black Hills Regional Ski for Light friends at this year’s Summer Light event held at Camp Bob Marshall, located in the heart of the beautiful Black Hills, six miles east of Custer on the northeast shore of Bismarck Lake.

Volunteers AND Participants can register now at The dates of the event are August 18-20, 2017. Trout fishing, canoeing and kayaking, and swimming on Bismarck Lake are key recreational activities. Bob Marshall’s setting, the picturesque ponderosa pine forest of the southern Black Hills intermingled with aspen and spruce, is an ideal area for bird watching, nature and rock studies. For many who attend, Camp Bob Marshall is the last chance to relax before the school year starts. This event is very family-friendly so feel free to bring your family and have them meet your Ski for Light friends.

The event cost is $50 which includes all meals and the camper fees Bob Marshall charges the organization. The cabins and shower facilities at Bob Marshall are wheelchair accessible. Sleeping bags are recommended for the beds located in the cabins. You are welcome to bring your camper.

What to expect at Camp Bob Marshall:
•We have numerous one room, spacious cabins with bunkbeds. The cabins are shared with other Ski for Light participants and volunteers.
•You’ll want to bring a sleeping bag, pillow, bath towel and shower supplies.
•There is a large, separate shower and toilet facility that is wheelchair accessible.
•There’s also a very nice main lodge building that we all gather in for wonderful meals and socialization.
•Fishing gear is available if needed but a SD Fishing License is required.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Please understand that SFL is not able to provide individual attendants and/or supervision. APPLICATIONS MUST BE RECEIVED IN ADVANCE. If you have other questions/concerns, please feel free to call the Black Hills Regional Ski for Light office at 605-341-3626.

Several NDAB members have made their own arrangements to attend this event in past years. The event is increasing in popularity as people find out how much fun it is.

Dining in the Dark

By Janelle F. Olson, Chairperson

NDAB has received a second invitation to be a part of the Dining in The Dark event sponsored by the Minot Lions. Plans are still in the works and details will be forthcoming. This is being planned for October of 2017. Other communities have expressed an interest in having a Dining in The Dark in their town and this is being explored further. Stay tuned!

JPMorgan Chase/ACB Leadership Fellows Class of 2017

As ACB approached its 56th annual conference and convention, the organization placed more emphasis on investing in the development of new leadership talent for the future. A special second year grant from JPMorgan Chase (JPMC) allowed ACB to continue to offer a program to bring five ACB members with recognized leadership potential to the July 2017 national conference and convention in Reno, Nevada.

These individuals needed to satisfy three basic criteria — be 18 years of age or older; be blind or visually impaired; and be members in good standing of ACB. Each applicant had to be recommended by the president of their respective affiliate. The application process for the JPMC/ACB Leadership Fellows included the submission of a written essay stating why the applicant felt they should be considered for this award, two letters of recommendation, and participation in a telephone screening interview with the DKM Committee.
Factors considered in the selection process included the applicant’s reasons for applying for the leadership award; a summary of the applicant’s education and relevant experience; number of years of membership in ACB as well as previous conventions attended, if any; description of one’s role as a leader; and an assessment of what one feels they bring to ACB.

All award recipients received round-trip transportation; hotel accommodation (double occupancy), per diem stipend for meals and incidentals, convention registration fee and reception and banquet tickets. Recipients were expected to attend the convention from the opening session Saturday evening, July 1, through the Thursday evening banquet, July 6, and to participate actively in all convention activities including the daily general sessions, special-interest presentations, seminars and workshops.

Congratulations to our own Michelle Zentz of Fargo who was selected as one of the five members of the Class of 2017!

Michelle is a graduate of North Dakota State University where she received a bachelor of science in human development and education, majoring in child development and family science, and she worked part-time as an accessibility consultant for NDSU’s Information Technology Department. She has been a member of the North Dakota Association of the Blind (NDAB) and ACB for the past twenty years. In 2016, Michelle received the NDAB Edwin Christensen Award, where her eleven years of board service (including as president and past president) were recognized. She has worked for seven years with the NDAB Family Adjustment Seminar, been an instructor at summer camp and is active in the Ski for Light program. Michelle participates in NDAB’s fundraising efforts, is a member of the constitution and bylaws committee, and serves as the current chairperson of the NDAB nominating committee. In her community, she has provided information and referral services, operated the suicide prevention hotline, and served on her local independent living center board as the vice president.

“No, he’s still active.”

By Janelle F. Olson

Spring, summer, fall and winter, I get up, go to work, return home, and do what needs to be done, go to bed and then get up and do it all over again the next day. When it is the weekend, the Saturday alarm clock is not allowed to ring and the dress code may be pajamas, stretching way into the early afternoon. During an ordinary week in my ordinary life, I likely will have shopped for something at a local store, attended a yoga class and Lions meeting, washed clothes, cleaned the shower (a hateful job), cooked, baked muffins or banana bread, and have done my best to do what I am getting paid to do at my job. Activities making up the ebb and flow of my day-to-day living include paying bills, sending birthday cards, cleaning the fridge, bringing items to the secondhand store, attending community events, talking with my spouse and keeping in touch with family and friends. I am guessing, with a few adjustments, your days probably look pretty similar to mine.

Once in a while, I will travel out of town for work or on a vacation getaway. Most recently, I took a couple days away from work to be with my three sisters and a girl cousin from Norway as we made an overnight trip to Medora where we enjoyed wandering through the shops, eating ice cream, seeing a lone buffalo in the park who graciously posed for pictures, and being thoroughly entertained by the 2017 cast of the Medora Musical. During our time together, we laughed till we cried, learned all about GEO Caching from our cousin and commented often on the North Dakota wind that just wouldn’t quit blowing.

We five, as a “clump” of three white cane users and two with sight, strolled in and out of shops in crowded spaces, dodging other “clumps” of tourists on the wooden planked sidewalks and maneuvered around sleeping toddlers in strollers being pushed by parents who were gracious, but not too sure what the “rest of the story” would be when they saw us coming.

I am guessing the sight of such a party, again, five of us, three using white canes, perhaps was not an everyday sight in the sleepy town of Medora. I wondered, as we walked, if those who saw us coming identified us as girlfriends or family enjoying the day together, or just three “blind women” who had been taken out for the day by their “care givers.”

During the course of our time together, comments were made to the non-white cane users in our group which are not unfamiliar to any of us with sight loss. “They” were asked by a store clerk and workers if “we” were “handicapped,” if “we” could climb stairs and if “we” were able to use an escalator.

As members of NDAB, I know that each one of us is always on the lookout for others who have sight loss. We are very willing and eager to provide information about our association and supports and services. We want to share the strength and hope we have received. Sometimes, it is the spotting of the white cane that prompts a conversation. This is what happened on the second day of our trip. A young woman shared with us that her father was blind in one eye and had experienced a detached retina in the other which left him with very limited vision. She said he was 70 years old and lived in state. That was just enough information for me to ask if he had heard of NDAB or ever received services through NDSB/Vision Services. She responded, “No, he’s still active.”

Still active? This was a new one for me. I was clearly stopped in my tracks with these words. Since returning home, I have given them a great deal of consideration and pondering. I suppose, perhaps, the implication in this statement must be that being “active” stops where sight loss begins? You lose your sight. You sit in a chair and are waited on by friends and family. You would never be able to work or take care of your surroundings. If one is “still active,” no services or supports will be needed. In thinking about it, I would suggest driving a car or flying a plane should unequivocally stop when sight loss begins, but we all know there is a whole lot of “active” that can keep right on going after that eye doctor tells you there is nothing more that can be done.

Those of us who are living the life “after the big E” know all about this and have figured out different ways to make our active lives continue on, not even giving it a second thought.

I really would like to wrap this article up with an earthshattering moral of some kind. I have read what I have written up to this point many, many times thinking an ending would become clear and that would be that. Not the case. All I can tell you is what I believe after turning one person’s comment ‘round and round’ in my head since returning home from a very fun getaway. I guess it boils down to the fact that I haven’t seen well for years, my vision continues to get worse and well, I, just like you, continue to be “active.”

May we keep “keeping on” where we live as each of us continues to do the ordinary things from day to day. Let’s keep supporting one another and never miss the opportunity to reach out to others when the white cane opens that door to a conversation. The eternal optimist in me believes there will be someone who we touch who will say, “Hey, you’re still active…I want that!”

Donations and Memorials

The following donations and memorials have been received during the past quarter:
Sons of Norway $50
Schwan Charitable $200
Fargo Gateway Lions $250
Jay Blind $100
Cathy Bryce $35
Paul Nelson and Gary Peterson $200
Total Donations: $835
Lyle Nelson and Loris Van Berkom in memory of Irene Nelson
Robert and Cheryl Esmail in memory of Ethel Storm
Total Memorials: $145
Total Donations and Memorials: $980

NDAB is very grateful for the generosity of all those who have so generously supported our mission.
Helen Baumgartner, NDAB Treasurer

Candy’s Corner

On June 1 I had the pleasure of attending a performance of “The Braille Legacy,” a new musical about the life of Louis Braille, at the Charing Cross theater in London, UK. This marvelous play focuses on Braille’s creation of his eponymous code, and the impact it had on people who are blind at the time and to the present day. You might think, as I did, “How could the creation of a literacy code be the subject of a musical?” But somehow it works, and very beautifully! The acting, singing, and music were superb. One of the themes of the show included the fact that the blind students at the Institute for Blind Youth in Paris, in the early 19th century, were considered by society to be pitiable creatures who needed to be taken care of but not worth educating. The superintendent of the school tried to convince the National Assembly that his students were not “poor unfortunates,” but human beings with potential who would benefit from the allocation of funds to run the school. Another theme was the liberation the students experienced when they learned the new code, which enabled them to read and write. Previously, the only method of reading available to them was embossed script, which was very difficult to learn and expensive to produce. Some of the students had learned to write in cursive form, but of course they were unable to write to one another using this method. The braille code changed all of that and opened the windows of literacy to the students and to successive generations.
Even though Louis Braille dies at the end of the show, it ends on a hopeful and uplifting note. My son and husband, who attended the performance with me, enjoyed the show tremendously, as did I. I hope this production will come to the United States and to other countries around the world, because   it presents this important message—that all people have value—in a very entertaining manner. I left the theater appreciating even more than I had before the contribution my hero, Louis Braille, as made to our world.
Here is a summer recipe for you, that will not heat up the oven:
1 cup butter
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup peanut butter

Grease a 9×9-inch square pan.
Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and vanilla. Mix in the oats. Cook over low heat 2 to 3 minutes, or until ingredients are well blended. Press half of mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Reserve the other half for topping.
Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips and peanut butter in a small heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently until smooth. (I used the microwave for this.) Pour the chocolate mixture over the crust in the pan, and spread evenly with a knife or the back of a spoon.
Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the chocolate layer, pressing in gently. Cover, and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature before cutting into bars.

More Recipes

Submitted by Brenda Bruins

Rhubarb Bars

3 c cut rhubarb
1½ c oatmeal
1½ c sugar
1½ c flour
¼ c water
1 c brown sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 c margarine
1 tsp vanilla
½ c nuts

Dissolve cornstarch in cold water. Add sugar and rhubarb, cook this until thick. Add vanilla. Mix oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, margarine and nuts together until crumbly and pat ¾ of mixture into a greased 9×13-inch pan. Pour rhubarb mixture over crumbs. Sprinkle rest of crumbs over rhubarb mixture. Bake at 375º for 30-35 minutes.

Instant Potatoes with Chives and Cream Cheese

1½ c hot water
½ c milk
2 Tbsp ranch dressing
3 oz cream cheese, cubed
1¼ c instant potatoes
½ tsp onion salt
1½ Tbsp chopped chives

Place hot water, butter, cubed cheese, onion salt and chives in sauce pan. Heat until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and add milk and ranch dressing. Mix well.
Add potatoes and stir slightly. If too stiff, add a little hot water or milk. Delicious when reheated in microwave. Serves 4-6

The Hear and Now

How Do You Watch Peak TV If You’re Blind?

Inside the burgeoning world of audio description, a game-changer in accessible TV.
by Kelsey McKinney

The fifth season of House of Cards begins with a pair of dress shoes padding toward a doorway. They belong to President Frank Underwood, on his way to interrupt a congressional hearing. Most viewers will experience it as a quiet moment—but in this version of the episode, there’s a voice speaking, and it’s not Kevin Spacey’s fourth-wall-breaking narration. “Underwood marches over a gleaming floor in a stately corridor,” it tells us. “Frank puts on a lapel pin.” And just before the opening credits begin—after Frank has arrived on the Senate floor, where he demands those gathered to declare war—the voice interjects once more: it needs us to know that Frank has made eye contact with the viewer, because the assumption is that we won’t be able to see it ourselves.

Read the whole article at

Come One, Come All to the Black Hills!

REad this article at

A special bronze American flag helps veterans who are visually impaired remember why they served.

“The braille flag feels like it reaches out and touches you,” Walt Peters said.
Peters, a decorated U.S. Army soldier, donated a bronze braille flag to the Veterans Affairs Jacksonville Outpatient Clinic to encourage people to never lose their vision of hope.
“For those who have not understood the patriotism of a flag because they can’t really feel it, all of a sudden they feel this and it makes them have a better day and beautiful day,” Peters said.
This braille donation will potentially impact more than 1,000 local blind service men and women. The arrangement of dots and lifted stars and stripes help vets recall memories before going blind.
Veteran Michael Taylor said feeling allows him to see with his heart.
“Sometimes when I feel something, I just can’t believe the difference,” Taylor said.
In a dedication ceremony, Peters spoke to service members about never giving up.
“You have to have the will and the strength and the pride to get up and do things for yourself, your family, and your fellow man,” Peters said.
This flag is a symbolic message that shares his vision. A vision to continue to dream big and see with your heart.
Peters stood at the podium and told vets, “To me, the braille flag is the last flag I will really ever see.”
The plaque depicts the American flag through tactile figures. In the upper left are the stars and long smooth horizontal lines to represent the stripes. The end of each stripe is embossed with the braille dots 4, 5, 6 followed by the lower case “r,” indicating the color red. Between each of the representations of the red stripes are the long raised textured areas representing the white stripes. The end of each strip is embossed with the braille dots followed by the lower case “w,” indicating the color white.
This graphic equally serves as a teaching/learning tactile aid for instructing blind students how the American flag appears to the sight. To learn how you can purchase one for your loved one, visit or call 316-265-9692.

Summary of Black Hills Regional Ski For Light 2017 Trip

Submitted by Michelle Zentz

The charter bus to attend the 2017 SFL event had a slow start. We made up time quickly, picking up nineteen participants and volunteers along the way to Deadwood, SD. The bus departed from Fargo and made stops in Jamestown, Bismarck and Dickinson. ND was represented very well indeed, as several others from ND met us upon arrival.

The week’s downhill activities were held at the Terry Peak Ski Resort. Wharf Resources Area was the location for both cross-country skiing and snowshoeing events. The weather was wonderful for January, yet not ideal for skiing. Despite the warm weather, many had the opportunity to go snowmobiling!

Lunch was provided daily by our generous hosts. Cross-country skiers were fed at the Warf Resources site with meals consisting of barbecued pork sandwiches, turkey sandwiches, seafood bisque, beef stew and chili. Throughout the day there was also a large sampling of fried foods including egg rolls, deep fried mozzarella sticks and French fries to munch upon. Evenings were filled with many activities including: an all-you-can-eat barbecue buffet, a bonfire at Warf resources, a slot tournament, karaoke, live music and dancing at the Old-Style Saloon 10.

An awards banquet was held Thursday evening at the Deadwood Mountain Grand Event Center. The Dave Sundeen Golden Hose Award recipient was Susan Guest. The award is given annually to a participant, guide or volunteer whose personal contribution has positively affected and impacted North Dakota participants.

As usual, ND brought back a bus load of trophies! There are too many winners to list in this limited space. Race results are listed on the Black Hills Regional Ski for Light webpage under race results. Congratulations to all participants and guides who received recognition.

“thank-you” to NDAB, Judy Iten of Judy’s Leisure Tours of Fargo, Terry Dorman of Dorman Bus Service, the North Dakota School for the Blind Foundation, and North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind. We are grateful for the financial contributions, organizational efforts, collaboration and coordination that make this trip possible. We are especially grateful to Bob Gruchala for hosting a ND trivia game which made the long bus ride home seem much shorter.

Make sure to mark your calendars for the 39th BHSFL event, scheduled for January21 through the 26th, 2018. You won’t want to miss out on all of the fun!

Legislative Report Summer 2017

By Allan Peterson and Zelda Gebhard

As this report is written, the days of June are waning and the U.S. Senate is considering whether to pass its version of the American Health Care bill. If it does pass in its present form, it undoubtedly, would affect everyone’s health care delivery in the coming years, and potentially could have a very negative effect on many individuals in the disability community.

It is unfortunate that the issue of health care has become so politicized. It is with this realization that NDAB, as a nonpartisan organization, must remain strictly neutral. We, above all, must preserve and protect our political independence.

Conversely, you, as individual concerned citizens, are free to exercise your own judgement on this issue. As concerned citizens, we feel that you should be aware of the implications of what this legislation portends. 

An analysis of the Senate health care reform bill would reveal that it’s only marginally better than the House version. It still would result in huge cuts in both Medicaid and for Medicaid expansion for health care for folks who qualify for this coverage due to low incomes.

Medicaid was passed into law in 1964 during the Lyndon Johnson administration and is designed to provide health care coverage for our older citizens, people with disabilities and folks who qualify because of poverty. Both the House and Senate health care bills would make deep cuts into Medicaid funding and potentially millions of people could find that they would no longer have coverage for their health care.

Under the proposed House and Senate health care bills, Businesses and people with wealth would realize huge tax cuts. Ultimately what really is needed is a bipartisan effort that would fix the problems that have plagued The Affordable Health Care Act without removing what has proven to be helpful to many low-income people who are blind, have low vision, or have other disabilities. 

The Senate bill has just recently become available for public scrutiny and was crafted behind closed doors by a few Republican Senators. What will now happen to this legislation is a matter of speculation. But Republican leadership in Congress is pushing hard for quick passage of this bill. Thus, it appears there will be a shortage of time in which to fully evaluate this legislation. Given this reality, we urge you to call the Capitol Hill offices of North Dakota U.S. Senators Hoeven and Heitcamp and urge them to vote no on the Senate version, (American Healthcare Act of 2017).

Senator John Hoeven 202-224-2551
Senator Heidi Heitcamp 202-224-2043

A brief summary of the Legislative Report that Zelda and Allan gave at the NDAB Convention held in Devils Lake:

Allan and Zelda reported on the advocacy work they did during the recent 65th session of the North Dakota Legislature and the work they did in connection with the American Council of the Blind’s 2017 Legislative Seminar.

The primary goal during the Legislative Session was to advocate to maintain the current levels of blindness rehabilitation services training that are provided by North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind and by the Older Blind Program (administrated within the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation) VR).

Due to the significant decline that’s been experienced in state revenues over the past two or so years, appropriations for all state government services and programs were cut prior to the session and were cut further in the Governor’s Budget that was presented to the Legislature. So, the real challenge going into this session was to try to maintain the current funding levels for blindness specific rehabilitation training services in the budgets that were to be approved by the State Legislature and the Governor.

The bills that begin in either the House or the Senate are sent to the other chamber at crossover that happens about midway through the four-month legislative session. What this really means is that advocates must testify at hearings on the same bill at least twice during the session.

During this past Legislative Session, the appropriations bills for North Dakota Vision Services/School for the Blind and the Older Blind Program began their journeys in the House Appropriations Committee and after crossover were heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Zelda testified before the House Appropriations Committee for both appropriations bills for blindness rehabilitation services; Allan testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee when the hearings for these bills were heard by the Senate committee after crossover.

Can we declare any advocacy successes? Many of the legislators do go out of their way to tell us that they appreciate our testimony and say that it truly does make a big difference when they make their decisions.

Outcomes? Under the circumstances, Paul Olson, NDVS/SB Superintendent, is satisfied with the funding they received from the Legislature. He says that they can provide their services at an acceptable level with the funding they did receive. Certainly, it’s quite true too that more services could have been provided if more funding would have been made available.

In an effort to involve more of our NDAB members in advocacy work, Zelda determined in which of the legislative districts NDAB had members that were represented by one of the 14 Senators on the Senate Appropriations Committee. She then reached out to these individual NDAB members to encourage them to communicate their support for the budget request for NDVS/SB to their respective Senators. Note: We did have at least one NDAB member in all but one of the 14 Legislative Districts.

Zelda and Allan also attended this year’s ACB Legislative Seminar held on Monday, February 27th and Tuesday, February 28th at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Alexandria, Virginia.

Briefly the three policy initiatives that were the topics of this year’s Seminar were:

Issue #1: H.R. 2050. reintroduction of the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage of Low-Vision Devices Act of 2017 (H.R. 2050). This legislation would establish a national demonstration/research project that’s tasked with identifying the impact to Medicare and Medicaid recipients who are prescribed low-vision devices over a certain threshold cost.

Issue #2: Ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty by the U.S. Senate. This Treaty is the result of an international diplomatic conference that was conducted under the auspices of the World Intellectual Property Organization WIPO in Marrakesh, Morocco in 2013. The terms of this treaty would allow libraries and other organizations that produce accessible format copies of works for distribution to people with print-reading disabilities to share these works across international boundaries. To date, 27 countries have ratified this treaty. Since 20 countries are needed for it to become recognized as an official agreement among the community of nations, it is now a certified International Treaty. Unfortunately, the U.S. Congress has, thus far, failed to take any action to ratify this Treaty.

Issue #3: Safeguarding services and programs for people who are blind and visually impaired. Because of all the speculation about what programs Congress could cut or eliminate, ACB seeks to maintain the current level of federal appropriations for programs that provide blindness related services throughout the country. Federal funding is the primary source for a number of critical service programs which are invaluable to people who are blind and sight impaired, among these are the older blind program, the Talking Book Program through the National Library Service, the Helen Keller Centers for the Deaf and Blind, the American Printing House for the Blind, and others. The concern is that these programs have been highly effective in helping promote independence among people who are blind and sight impaired for years. And that cuts to these programs would lead to losses of independence that would, in turn, lead to higher costs for personal care and a very demonstrable reduction in quality of life for numbers of people who are blind and sight impaired.
The concern about loss of federal funding for these blindness services is very real because of the declared intent by the President and Republicans in Congress to increase funding for defense and homeland security while dramatically cutting taxes. This potentially could mean that federal funding for blindness related services might be jeopardized to achieve the declared budgetary goals. So, it seems quite likely that our advocacy for blindness services will be needed now more than ever before!

Our recent 2017 NDAB Convention did adopt three legislative issue resolutions. Two of the resolutions support ACB’s top Legislative priorities. The first of these resolutions “Federal support for six key blindness service programs” supports the 2017 ACB Imperative “Safeguarding services and programs for people who are blind and visually impaired”. Our second 2017 resolution “Supplying Low Vision Devices to Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries” supports the ACB Imperative “H.R. 2050. Reintroduction of the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage of Low-Vision Devices Act of 2017”. Our third resolution “Federal Funding Support for Amtrak’s Empire Builder” urges congressional support for this vital transportation service in North Dakota.

The intent of each resolution is to declare that we, as an advocacy organization that represents the interests of people who are blind and visually impaired, are speaking as a statewide group in support of our declared positions on these issues. The three resolutions will be sent to the offices of Senators John Hoeven & Heidi Heitkamp and Congressman Kevin Cramer. These resolutions will be published elsewhere in this issue of the Promoter.

NDAB Resolution 2017-01

Federal Support for Six Key Blindness Service Programs

Whereas, Demographic studies consistently demonstrate that approximately 3.3% of the population have visual conditions, which cannot be corrected that mildly, moderately, or severely compromise eyesight, this indicates that approximately 24,000 individuals in North Dakota are affected by uncorrectable sight loss, a quarter of whom (6,000) have significant sight loss and/or are “legally blind”; and,

Whereas, demographically, North Dakota has the highest proportion of people per capita over the age of 85 than other states and this is the very population that experiences the highest incidence of sight loss, furthermore, this is the population of people whose numbers, at a minimum, will double in the next 30 years; and,

Whereas, organizations of and for people who are blind or visually impaired have identified six key programs and services that rely on federal funding that are vitally important to help maintain the independence of people who have sight loss; and,

Whereas, these six identified federal programs and services vital to people who are blind and visually impaired, have already undergone significant cuts over the past decade, so to further cuts to them, at this time, would result in an undue hardship for North Dakotans who are blind and visually impaired;

Now, Therefore, be it resolved by the North Dakota Association of the Blind in Convention assembled at the Great American Inn in Devils Lake, ND, on this Saturday of June 10th, 2017,do Strongly urge our North Dakota Congressional delegation, Senators Hoeven & Heitkamp and Congressman Cramer, and other members of Congress to maintain current funding levels for the six key blindness service programs that are vital to the independence, education, and well-being of people who are blind and visually impaired. These programs are funded through a variety of funding streams in the federal budget. Three of these six programs are rehabilitation oriented. They include: (1) Independent Living Services for Older Individuals with Blindness which serves people over the age of 55, (2) the Helen Keller National Center which serves individuals that have both hearing and sight loss, (3) the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program operated through the Department of Defense that investigates treatment protocols for eye trauma. Three federal programs that support literacy programs for people with sight loss include: (1) the Talking book program & braille materials from the National Library Service for the Blind, (2) the Education Technology Media & Materials Program that provides students access to books and literary materials, (3) educational materials supplied to K-12 schools throughout the nation by the American Printing House for the Blind.

NDAB Resolution 2017-02

Supplying Low Vision Devices to Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries

Whereas, the use of low vision devices are critically important aids for health, safety, and independent living for persons with significant sight loss; and,

Whereas, the cost of the more powerful and effective low vision devices makes this equipment unaffordable to many that live on modest, fixed incomes; and,

Whereas, the federal agency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), that has the responsibility for administrating the Medicare program, instituted an internal decision in November of 2008 to expand the statutory eyeglass exclusion rule, (this rule categorically denies coverage for prescription eyeglasses), so that the expanded interpretation of the rule would include any device that employs a lens that can aid a person’s remaining residual sight; and,

Whereas, the decision to expand the eyeglass exclusion rule, on the basis that low vision devices are equivalent to ordinary eye glasses, is an unwarranted expanded interpretation of this policy; and,

Whereas, the use of the eyeglass exclusion rule to deny Medicaid coverage for low vision devices has resulted in a very detrimental impact on the lives of many with significant vision loss; and,

Whereas, rehabilitation training to deal with sight loss and the use of assistive technology aids allow individuals to live independently and will thus reduce the number of people living in institutional care;

Now, Therefore, be it resolved by the North Dakota Association of the Blind, in Convention assembled at the Great American Inn in Devils Lake, ND, on this Saturday of June 10th, 2017, that we do strongly urge Congress to act now to end our national Medicare system’s failure to provide coverage for low vision devices, from simple hand-held aids to more powerful and feature-rich video magnifiers, and
Be it further resolved that we call upon our North Dakota U.S. Congressional delegation (Senators Hoeven & Heitkamp and Congressman Cramer) to support H.R. 2050, the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act of 2017 which would, through a five-year national demonstration project, evaluate the fiscal impact of providing low vision equipment to Medicare eligible individuals.

NDAB Resolution 2017-03

Federal Funding Support for Amtrak’s Empire Builder

Whereas, Passenger Rail service provided by the Amtrak Empire Builder offers an extremely vital transportation link to many citizens of North Dakota and others who choose to utilize this mode of transportation; and,

Whereas, there are a significant number of people with disabilities and others, who are not able to use a personal vehicle, who are heavily reliant on the availability of Amtrak’s Empire Builder to travel from city to city in our state and throughout our country; and,

Whereas, in North Dakota there are only a very limited number of options for public passenger service that allows people to travel from one city to another; and,

Whereas, the passenger service available from Amtrak’s Empire Builder is a safe, affordable, accessible, mode of travel by those who depend on this service; and,

Whereas, when compared to other modes of transportation, train engines are very fuel efficient and emit a significantly smaller amount of harmful pollutants into the atmosphere;

Now, Therefore, be it resolved by the North Dakota Association of the Blind in Convention assembled at the Great American Inn in Devils Lake, ND, on this Saturday of June 10th, 2017, do Strongly urge our North Dakota Congressional delegation, Senators Hoeven & Heitkamp and Congressman Cramer, and other members of Congress to maintain the current federal funding levels for Amtrak’s Empire Builder that provides an extremely valuable passenger rail service to the citizens of North Dakota that allows people to travel from city to city in our state and throughout our nation.

Three Keys You Need

Reprinted with permission by Steve Goodier

A funny story tells about three high school seniors who went to New York for their senior trip. When they arrived in the city, they went immediately to one of the finest hotels and registered for a room. They were assigned a room on the 30th floor.

After settling in, they decided to go see the sights. They toured Manhattan, the Empire State Building, Wall Street and the Statue of Liberty. They finally returned to their hotel utterly exhausted.

When they asked the desk clerk for the key to their room, he said, “I am sorry, the elevators are not running.” He told them that they could either wait or use the stairway. The thought of a soft bed was irresistible, so they decided to climb the stairs – all thirty stories.

One of the boys had an idea. “On the way up, each of us will tell the funniest story we know for ten flights of stairs,” he suggested. The other two agreed and started to climb. When they reached the tenth floor, they were still going strong. By the twentieth floor, their legs were rubber and they panted for breath. The steps grew harder to climb and the one whose turn it was to tell a funny story said, “I’m sorry, I’m just too tired to talk.”

They trudged on in silence. When they reached the 29th floor, one of them began to laugh. He sat down on the steps and laughed hysterically. Finally, he said to his amazed companions, “I just thought of the funniest thing ever. And it happens to be true!”

“What is it?” they asked.

“We left the key in the lobby.”

Many people feel as if they have lost the key to getting what they want in life – meaning, happiness, success, peace, security. They have been trudging and toiling at length but feel as if they are locked out of that place they really want to be. They think, “If only I had the key to a whole and happy life.”

That wise and amazing woman Eleanor Roosevelt gave three keys to meaning, happiness, success and peace. 

She said to do whatever comes your way as well as you can. She knew that the key to satisfaction in life is to take pride in whatever you’re given to do, regardless how grand or humble the undertaking.
Another key is to think as little as possible about yourself and as much as possible about other people, and also about things that are interesting. Eleanor Roosevelt knew that those who take a genuine interest in the concerns of others and in great ideas lose their desire to worry needlessly about themselves.
The third is that, since people receive more joy back when they give joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness you are able to give. She was aware that the key to finding happiness is in giving happiness – wherever and whenever possible.

These are three keys that should neither be lost nor locked away in a safe place. Learn to use them – every day – and you’ll open doors to those important and wonderful things that will make your life worth living.

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