‘Thunder Dog’ author tells story


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Neighbors | Elise McKeown Skolnick.Poland students at McKinley School heard Michael Hingson speak on being Blind and on his book Dec. 13.

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Neighbors | Elise McKeown Skolnick.Michael Hingson demonstrated a device that reads words on a page to Poland students Dec. 13.

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Neighbors | Elise McKeown Skolnick.Africa, a guide dog, helps "Thunder Dog" author, Michael Hingson, get around. She accompanied him Dec. 13.

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Neighbors | Elise McKeown Skolnick.Michael Hingson is shown with his guide dog, Africa, as he talked to students at Poland McKinley School about being blind.

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Neighbors | Elise McKeown Skolnick.Emma Bodendorfer (left) helped introduce Michael Hingson at an assembly at Poland McKinley School Dec. 13.

By ELISE McKEOWN SKOLNICK

neighbors@vindy.com

Blind people can do anything sighted people can do. That’s what Michael Hingson, author of “Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero,” told Poland students Dec. 13.

He asked the students to name activities they thought a blind person couldn’t do. They shouted out drive, play sports, cook, fly a plane, watch television, and more.

“I’m still waiting,” he said. “You haven’t told me one thing yet.”

Hingson addressed many of them with specific examples. He has flown a plane, he cooks regularly – and noted that a winner of television’s Master Chef was blind - and showed a video of a blind person driving a car.

“I eat just like you do. I walk around just like you do,” he said. “I travel all over the world, just like you can.”

He also earned a master’s degree in physics from the University of California. He didn’t do it exactly the same way as his peers, he noted. For example, he used books in Braille, rather than print.

“But the point isn’t that I was blind,” Hingson said. “The point is that I figured out a way to make it work, just like each of you, every day, figures out how to do things.”

Hingson, who has been blind since birth, went on to a successful career after earning his master’s degree. On Sept. 11, 2001, he was working in the World Trade Center, with his guide dog, when the first plane hit. He described the way he escaped the collapsing building on Sept.11, by being prepared ahead of time.

“As a society, we believe if you’re blind you need help, you can’t do it by yourself,” he told the students. “And what I’m here to tell you is that’s not true. And it’s high time we as a society changed our attitude about people who are different than we are.”

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