Three blinded veterans from the Columbus Chapter of the Georgia Regional Group joined 85 other supposedly sane individuals in walking over a bed of coals burning at over 1,000 degrees last August 29. The feat was performed barefoot in front of a crowd numbering some 8,000.
Chapter President Joe McNeil, Deborah Kerr, and Clifford Jones, Jr. all took part in the action.
“This was all an exercise in affirming the idea of mind over matter,” said Joe. “I felt myself move from the grass up to the coals and then back to the grass, but I never felt anything else.”
Orientation for the fire walk took place in a brief session three weeks earlier. It was the only training provided. The walk was part of larger community gathering organized by Country’s Barbecue Restaurant’s Midnight Express Fund to benefit blinded veterans and other visually impaired persons in the Columbus, Georgia, community.
“People can do extraordinary things when acting out of a desire to help others,” said peak performance trainer Scott Goodnight, who led the amazing exhibition and prior orientation session. Goodnight is a former U.S. Army Airborne Ranger who believes that facing and conquering fears allows individuals to experience a “breakthrough” that translates into positive changes in many areas of life and on many levels.
“My main goal for this event is to show people what is possible when you put the needs of others in front of your own,” he said. “The best way to get what you want and need is to help others get what they want and need first.”
Another mission of the fire walk was to raise awareness and proceeds for the visually impaired of the Chattahoochee Valley area.
After the 10 p.m. fire walk, Goodnight and a few other select individuals served as running guides for blinded veterans and other visually impaired individuals, including the aforementioned members of the Columbus Chapter, wishing to participate in the 29th annual Midnight Express 5K run, also hosted by Country’s Barbecue.
Goodnight admits to having had some challenging students over the years but that working with blinded veterans has been the most exciting and rewarding experience of all. “What amazes me most is that working with visually impaired people is actually easier than working with people who can see,” he said. “A good part of my training is in helping people realize that their perception is not reality, which those without sight have already understood for years.”
Georgia blinded vets Joe, Deborah, and Clifford certainly validated that claim!
Teams Excel in
Two members of BVA’s New York Regional Group raised nearly $5,000 to fund sight-saving research through their participation in the 5K Long Island, New York, VisionWalk, held October 25.
Tom Bove, a resident of Farmingdale, New York, and Dennis O’Connell of Floral Park, partnered with family members in collecting pledges and preparing for the 10 a.m. Sunday morning walk on the Jones Beach Field 5 Boardwalk in the City of Wantagh.
“For a morning in the fall season, it was really nippy out there, the wind blowing off the ocean as we waited for the event to start,” said Dennis. “Fortunately, once we got on the boardwalk and the sun hit us, we warmed up pretty fast.”
Tom’s team, fittingly named Eye to Eye, consisted of an 11-person walking force. Dennis walked with his daughter Meghan, the two calling their team simply O’Connell. Under the walk’s guidelines, teams could consist of two members up to 2,000.