TALLADEGA — Hundreds gathered Monday as the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind hosted its annual back-to-school convocation.
During the ceremony, AIDB unveiled its new logo and branding message: “AIDB: Deaf. Blind. Limitless.”
According to AIDB staff, the institution’s logo has been used “since the 1980s, and the board felt it was time for an update.”
This year’s theme was racing inspired, which reflected the institute’s new brand.
“Every good racing team puts together a strong plan before the race begins,” AIDB President Dr. John Mascia sad. “I want you all to ask yourself, ‘How will you run the race?’ Limitations live only in the mind. At AIDB, we believe in each and every individual’s full potential. If they can dream it, they can achieve it.”
Founder and President of Follow the Dream Racing Jay Blake, of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, was guest speaker for the event.
Blake lost his sight and sense of smell and taste in May of 1997 while serving as a mechanic for a transportation company. The industrial accident left him completely blind.
“I remember waking up to a calming white light and a voice asking me if I wanted to stay or go,” he said. “I recall thinking that I had two kids and a wife, and that I needed to go back the them. The next thing I remember is waking up in a hospital bed, asking my brother if I was alive, then, if I was blind.”
Blake said it took more than 11 hours of plastic surgery to completely repair his face.
“At first, I was extremely depressed,” Blake said. “A few weeks after the accident, I remember sitting in my garage and reaching for the tools in my toolbox. Then something happened. I picked up a wrench and I immediately knew which tool I was holding.
“It was amazing because I discovered I was able to see through touch, and over time, that people miss a lot of details through sight. I had always dreamed of racing and being around cars. I soon realized I had else nothing to lose at that point, so why not just go for it?”
Blake serves as the crew chief for the Follow the Dream Permatex Funny Car. The Massachusetts-native leads his team in NHRA Top Alcohol Funny Car competition.
Follow A Dream Racing won the 2012 East Region championship and finished the season ranked 11th in national points.
Follow A Dream Racing was established to encourage “the power of positive thinking through motorsports.” The racing team continues to add many accolades to its resume while encouraging others that they can do anything they believe is possible.
The speaker encouraged those in attendance to use five tool’s in life’s toolbox
“It is important to have a positive attitude; pursue your education; find your passion; remain self-determined; and to have the ability to work as a team member,” he said.
Blake advised guests to not limit themselves and to keep moving forward to learn new things.
AIDB Director of Institutional Advancement Lynne Hanner also recognized the following employees for 25 years of service: Cassundria Cole, Robert Gatchell, Shirley Freeman, Dana Gilbert, James Hall, Mavis Hamlin, Steve Reaves and Linda Robinson.
Hanner added that AIDB is welcoming 97 new employees this year statewide.
“The only real limitation on your abilities is the level of you desire,” Hanner said. “If you want it bad enough, there are no limits on what you can achieve.”
AIDB students officially return to classes Monday, Aug 7.
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