By Thomas Reid, PCB Convention Coordinator
After all of the planning and anticipation leading up to this year’s PCB State Convention and Conference, we’re left with LIFE memories. Of course, that is LIFE as in “Leadership is for Everyone,” the theme of the 2014 PCB State Convention and Conference.
I offer here some of the presentations, events, and recollections that stand out in my memory. I hope these will encourage others to begin planning for the next convention in 2015 to be held October 15-18 in Harrisburg.
On the morning of Thursday, October 16, 2014, dozens of PCB members around the state boarded buses headed to Johnstown. Despite traffic jams, directionless bus drivers and sealed luggage compartments, we all arrived safely. I’m sure each of us who traveled on one of the three buses from different corners of the state would agree that the convention experience began the moment we boarded the bus.
One of the interesting facets of the convention is the diversity of those in attendance. I’m specifically referring to where we all fall along the timeline of adjusting to blindness. There are many who will say they never had to adjust — these are those who were either born blind or experienced vision loss at an early age — and then there is everyone else. There are those in the early stage of adjusting to vision loss. There are the family members who want to be supportive, but may not know how to respond, or even understand what is possible. The opening session included two presentations which contained valuable information and perspectives regardless of where you fall on the adjustment timeline.
First, PCB President Tony Swartz offered the following remarks:
We understand that if we learn the proper blindness skills, if we incorporate the techniques and adaptations of blindness or low vision into our daily lives and, above all, if we internalize the attitude that we are equal to our fully sighted peers, we are prepared to achieve all that we desire.
For those newly adjusting, this is the blueprint for regaining your independence and achieving your personal success. Others further along on the timeline, maybe this is a way to gauge your current state. We all need to periodically ask ourselves: Are we still incorporating each of these elements into our lives?
Second was Sue Lichtenfels’ presentation on Leadership is for Every Day. Sue began defining leadership as “being the best person you can be and helping others to strive for their best.” Once again, considering our diverse audience, Sue’s presentation offered each of us specific ways to practice leadership every day. This included her re-purposing the word blind as an acronym to help us all remember the everyday actions of a leader.
If you were unable to attend, please take some time to visit;
Following the Friday board meeting, many of us either went on the tour to the Johnstown Heritage Discovery Center, attended the Student’s Seminar or had an awesome time playing Audio Darts. It is with true pleasure and a great deal of humility that I report to you the winners of the first PCB Audio Darts Challenge. (We eliminated the Chapter Challenge due to several inter-chapter teams.)
Third Place: The Pointers
Bonnie Newland and Michael Zaken
Second Place: The Yankee Pirates
Bob Lichtenfels and Tony Swartz
First Place: The Bulls Eye Brothers
George Holliday and Thomas Reid
Throughout the weekend, it was great to hear good feedback about many of the presentations. Saturday’s presentation from the Education and Employment Committee, which featured a discussion of college life from the perspective of three students with vision loss — Donnie Buie, Nathan Kottler, and Lizzy Muhammad — was well received by all. Each of the three was well spoken and added a unique perspective to the conversation.
I would be remiss if I didn’t say how much fun I had during Team Trivia. The event to me felt like it was just a bunch of friends hanging out in my living room enjoying each other’s company. First, shout out to the winners:
Third Place: Turn Down for What
The group of young students celebrated as if they had won the lottery!
Second Place: York White Roses
First Place: The Hot Rods
As we were having fun laughing at silly jokes, singing songs together, and even some spontaneous dancing, I thought about how, as a group, we were shattering the stereotypes of what some may believe it means to live with vision loss or with a disability. Most of the stories published in any format — television, newspapers or movies, whether non-fiction or fiction — will have you believe that our community is way too sad or busy feeling sorry for ourselves to have fun. All of us in that ballroom, from eighteen to eighty years old, from different ethnic backgrounds, representing the full range of vision from fully sighted to blind, shared in what I believe was just good pure fun. (Well maybe not that pure!)
To those who attended the 2014 PCB State Convention and Conference, thanks for the memories!