Here’s What I’ve Been Up To

August 4th, 2014  / Author: T.Reid

It’s quite obvious that I haven’t been making the most of my personal blog lately. But what may not be as obvious is I have been turning out content. Most of that content has been on behalf of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind. The content that has been the most fun for me is producing two very different audio projects.

First, there’s Talking Advocacy & Government or as we like to refer to it, TAG. This mostly quarterly podcast focuses on explaining various advocacy issues and appealing to listeners to take specific action   often to advance an issue or piece of legislation.

The second is a more lighthearted marketing tool known as the Convention Blast. These monthly pieces alternate between the written format and audio. The most fun of course is producing the audio extended commercials advertising the PCB State Convention & Conference, for which I am currently the Coordinator. These give me the chance to interview guest speakers or facilitators about their scheduled presentations. Sometimes I even have the chance to just get a little silly and have fun with the piece and include some musical productions.

This year, I was given the opportunity to speak publicly about my experience with Non 24 Hour Sleep Wake Disorder and the use of the drug Hetlioz. For those unaware of Non24, here’s a description from their website:

“People with Non-24 who are totally blind lack the light perception necessary to synchronize the circadian clock with the 24-hour day-night cycle.”

This caused me to experience extremely erratic sleep patterns for years – making it incredibly difficult for me to concentrate and remain awake during the day.

At some point I hope to share more of my experience, but for now I recommend learning more on Non 24 and Hetlioz. I would really appreciate anyone reading this to go on over to the PCB links mentioned above and take a listen to some of the available episodes. Help us spread the word about the current advocacy topics like HR4040-All about improving education for blind children, HR3749 – Legislation to enable people with low vision to access devices that will enable them to live independent lives or just get more on the upcoming PCB State Convention & Conference. I really had a fun time with the latest episode which features the Students Seminar being held during our convention to aid students with vision loss throughout their college years. If you by chance happen to be a “Hip Hop Head” check out how I put my own spin on “Impeach the President.” Oh no he didn’t! Truly, I did!

Penny PushUps – A Recap in Playlists

October 14th, 2013  / Author: T.Reid

Penny PushUps Days 1 – 10:

 

Penny PushUps Days 11 – 20:

 

Penny PushUps Days 21 – 30:

 

Penny PushUps Thank You to Supporters:

 

Post Penny PushUps Analysis

October 14th, 2013  / Author: T.Reid

I expected to write my thoughts immediately following the final day of Penny PushUps, September 30. This proved to be wishful thinking mainly because of my responsibilities to the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind as its Convention Coordinator.

Following the final day of the 2013 Convention & Conference on October 6, I was able to reserve some gray matter to thinking about lessons learned during Penny PushUps. I can sum these up as follows:

  • Tell your own story
  • Take it to the people!
  • Ten years makes a big difference

     

    Tell Your Own Story

When I first thought about this fundraising and awareness campaign, I envisioned a straight forward video with little in production and editing. While I didn’t want it to appear as an off the cuff presentation, I didn’t want to follow a full script. This was more about reducing the time and effort that goes into production. For several reasons including access to notes, the fluctuations in my voice after the third set of pushups and the extended length of the videos, it made sense to add production and reduce the video size.

I originally expected the video to have a different tone with very specific content, but for various reasons this did not pan out. When it came down to it, the best videos in my opinion as far as content is concerned are those told from my own experience. These were the videos receiving the most positive feedback. It just proves that sharing what we know, ourselves, is the most genuine and therefore probably more compelling to the listener.

Take It To the People

I could have easily titled this, People Are Lazy, but I’m trying to be positive. I initially thought I would be able to simply post videos to YouTube and share the links on the other social media platforms. I was a little upset by the low number of views videos received. Realizing that my personal network was mainly on Face book and these were the folks most likely to sponsor the effort, I decided to start uploading the videos to Face Book directly. Apparently, initiating a YouTube link in Face Book is either time or resource consuming. On the contrary, videos residing in Face Book got a lot more views. Well, no reason to argue or analyze, it was just up to me now to bring the show to the people. This produced more shares and eventually more donors.

Ten Years Makes A Difference…

 

I can’t help but reflect back just under 10 years ago after losing my sight when I received my NLS Talking Book Cassette player. As I sat on the couch with the player, commercials for the iPod were on every television station. I felt as though technically, I was going backwards. I began learning Jaws only to find out that it wouldn’t give me access to the specific software I would need to continue my job as a developer. Searching the web was more frustrating than productive. Getting instant access to information like the rest of the world seemed impossible.

Today I can honestly say I feel as though the gap is closing as it relates to access. Did we reach the final goal; full access on par with those who are sighted? No, of course not, but we are getting closer. Today rather than receiving that NLS player as I did almost 10 years ago, I would be told I can get the same smart phone many of my peers are using and have access to books via multiple methods including the NLS, Audible.com and Amazon Kindle.

If you would have told me ten years ago as I sat on that couch that I would be able to successfully edit video, upload to YouTube and face Book, use a online crowd funding application to receive and track donations, post messages to social networks and to my own blog, well I wouldn’t believe you. Yet, I did, and man it felt great!

We always have a choice; we can concentrate on the problem and think about what we don’t have or focus on what is possible. I’m choosing to do the latter because there’s a chance I can do something I never imagined. Thinking only of the problem, well the outcome is pretty definite.

I struggle with the final lesson I gained from Penny PushUps. The entire process was done from my home, the Reid Compound. I call it the Compound for several reasons. The specific definition I am referring to is “An enclosed area used for confining prisoners of war.” I know, pretty dramatic, but honestly I felt like this in the early days of blindness. I don’t mean that metaphorically either, I felt confined because I didn’t have the ability to come and go at will. I still feel like this to some degree. In every aspect of my life, I have to ask how will I get there. The idea that I can still be productive with the physical boundaries is truly inspiring, but I’m always fearful of settling into those restrictions and feeling them even if they no longer exist.

I guess it is true that it doesn’t really matter where a seed is planted; it can still grow with the right nutrients.

Penny PushUps Day 17: Red Eye Reduction Limits Detection of Retinoblastoma

September 17th, 2013  / Author: T.Reid

While Penny PushUps is a fundraising effort, we planned to incorporate awareness.

In today’s Penny PushUps video, we discussed the potentially deadly results of turning Red Eye Reduction feature on by default. Go ahead and learn a little more about this problem and then sign the Change.org petition.

 

Remember, you can help our progress by donating and then sharing the link, www.pennypushups.org with your online and offline networks.

 

Penny PushUps Day 15: On the Road

September 15th, 2013  / Author: T.Reid

T.Reid sitting in the drivers seat with his hand on the steering wheel, ready to go.

Today, we took Penny PushUps on the road; and I am driving. That’s right; I was behind the wheel once again. No this was not the Google car or one of the other autonomous vehicles in development. It was our family car.

If you watch today’s video, you will see me behind the wheel driving out of our driveway and then reaching our destination. You also get to see my 5 sets of pushups with varying scenery.

Am I losing my mind? Maybe I am, but it’s for a good reason. We have a goal to raise funds to support children with cancer. We want to raise as much as we can to aid in the mission of “Life and Sight for Every Child.”. I guess we could just hope for the best, but I’d rather end this thirty day campaign knowing I went at it hard.

I would really like to encourage anyone reading this to share it with others. Of course you could share the link to www.pennypushups.org where you can watch all of the videos from the past 15 days and easily select the Donate button. Remember, just $1 per day or $30 for September can go a long way to help children with eye cancer or Retinoblastoma.

And now, we present Penny PushUps Day 15 – On the Road…turn it up high!

 

Penny PushUps Going Strong Through Day 12

September 12th, 2013  / Author: T.Reid

Penny PushUps Day 12 Logo

No one ever said raising funds for a good cause needs to be boring. I’m having way too much fun with this year’s effort to raise money for Daisy’s Eye Cancer Fund during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

While I haven’t posted every video here, remember just head over to www.pennypushups.org to watch them all. And while you’re there, there’s a button that says “Donate.” Go ahead and click or hit enter on that and just complete the rest of the forms. Select whatever amount you like, preferably a minimum of $30 and watch how good you feel. No I’m serious. Studies have proven that doing for others increases your [fill in here] by [fill in here] %.

I am so happy that family and friends have both donated and are sharing the link with their networks. I’ve been receiving a lot of love from those supporting the effort and just want to keep paying it forward. I’m amazed at what can happen with a bit of effort. We have 18 more days so stay tuned. Become a Penny PushUps teammate; donate, follow the progress and share the posts with your friends. We made it easy with the links that follow the post. Go ahead and use them.

Now for Penny PushUps Day 12:

 

Penny PushUps Day 7: Fun with the Whole Family

September 7th, 2013  / Author: T.Reid

Daddy seated on the stairs with daughters on each side.

Today’s Day 7 video was the perfect conclusion for week one of the Reid family Penny PushUps Fundraiser; supporting children with eye cancer. It was fun for me because the whole family worked well together producing this episode. We even have my youngest making a cameo appearance in the opening scene.

It is this same spirit of love and cooperation that enables families to get through all that comes with a cancer diagnosis. If a family isn’t cooperating, communicating and working as a team, to manage, the cancer will spread beyond the body and destroy the relationships. This is why it’s important to me that everything about Penny PushUps radiates positive energy.

My only regret is I didn’t make it descriptive due to a time constraint. With that said, for my brothers and sisters with visual impairments here’s the synopsis:

In the opening scene, I am asleep on the couch. While covered in a blanket snoring, my youngest daughter walks in to remind me I have to complete Penny PushUps. I struggle until finally she says I have to do it for the kids. I have to be a super hero.

Now here is where my 40 plus years of being a silly ham comes in handy. I throw off the blanket, well I try. Eventually I get up to reveal I am dressed and ready for the challenge.

In the next scene, as the theme from Rocky plays, I am exiting my house prepared to conquer my 100 pushups. I immediately drop down and do my first set of 20 pushups. This continues 4 more times in various locations in front of my house.

Credits:

Director: Riana

Actress: Raven

Camera: Marlett

There’s just 23 more days to go. As of today we have raised $600. Not bad! I really believe we can surpass our goal. Will you help? I can promise you I’m going to work really hard to raise funds and spread awareness. You know the motto; “Can’t Stop! Won’t Stop! Now check out the video below:

Penny PushUps Day 4 & 5: Good Vibrations!

September 5th, 2013  / Author: T.Reid

A yellow smiling faced balloon surrounded by sad faced blue balloons. The bright yello balloon's positive energy shines through the sadness.

Throughout September, I’m not only pushing up for children with Retinoblastoma, I’m actively thinking about them and sending them and their family’s positive energy.

My hope is that the good thoughts, positive energy and prayers are going to accumulate in a spiritual account, enabling the children and families to withdraw when necessary.

For my little guys and girls, I want them to take a little out when for the first time they notice someone staring at their artificial eye. My little warrior may feel as though they aren’t pretty enough or maybe they think they won’t get chosen for a team on the playground. Go ahead, access that account and hold your head a little higher.

For the parents at their wits end struggling to get their child to another EUA (Exam under anesthesia) by 6 AM. Driving 5 hours from their small town to the nearest RB Center, trying their best not to wake their 13 month old, and fearing she would begin crying for a bottle. The little RB Warrior will have to wait because a child cannot be examined on a full stomach. These parents will need a bit of energy to maintain themselves and their relationship for their child.

While my main goal with #PennyPushUps is to raise funds, I know not everyone will donate. However, everyone can easily deposit a little positive energy into that account.

Have you checked out Day 4 or Day 5 yet? If not for the children then here are some other considerations:

The music mix is banging!

Video editing by a blind dude, c’mon seriously you may be witnessing the next Spike Lee in the making.

I’m just saying, ladies, my arms are getting diesel already!

Remember you can just go to www.pennypushups.org and donate, watch the videos and share the love.

Penny PushUps Day 3 – I Go to Work

September 3rd, 2013  / Author: T.Reid

Penny PushUps Day 3

There’s many ways to raise funds for nonprofit organizations. I personally do not favor simply asking for donations. I believe in providing something for the money if possible. I don’t think the monetary value of the good or service is the only factor. Take the PBS approach for example. Donors aren’t solely interested in receiving the latest book by Wayne Dyer or the Yani CD; they appreciate the programming only available via their local PBS affiliate.

Last year, my family and I sold my wife’s delicious Empanadas with all proceeds donated to Daisy’s Eye Cancer Fund. We considered the fundraiser a success, but the difficulty distributing food restricted our potential sales.

Penny PushUps really has no boundaries. The donation page, progress videos and advertising are all online. It’s so simple to share this post with your friends. Share the link to pennypushups.org via text message and suggest that others donate and share.

If you watched any of the videos, which are descriptive by nature, you know I am looking for feedback. Producing the videos takes some work. While the family is pitching in with art work, set design, videography, the tasks of producing the music mix, final video and uploading and hitting the social media platforms falls to me. I’d love some suggestions for music. It just needs to be upbeat and family friendly.

Are you working out at home with me? Let me know. If so, here’s Day 3, let’s go!

Penny PushUps Day 2: Working Hard, Already!

September 2nd, 2013  / Author: T.Reid

A Bottle of Aleve pain medicine.

“I’ll do anything!”

I’m confident that just about every parent who has received the diagnosis of cancer for their child has thought this phrase. I know I have.

We can’t turn back time, but we can learn and even try new things to improve the future; if not for ourselves then for those who will follow. This is what Penny PushUps is all about. I’m not a celebrity with a large following who can draw donors with relative ease. I’m just an ordinary guy trying to use all possible platforms to raise funds and spread a little awareness about Retinoblastoma.

In comparison to the pain of watching your child go through treatment and often the loss of at least one eye, 100 pushups and everything that comes with it is a breeze. Won’t you help? While I ice my elbow and take a few Aleve, please go over to pennypushups.org and donate and then share and help us reach our goal. Don’t forget to watch our progress on Day 2.