Friday, January 29, 2010
Top Dog, 2010
Here I am, presenting a special award to Pastor Don ClenDaniel, Senior Pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, as part of the Opening Awards Ceremony of Top Dog Charleston, SC.
Last year, I was asked by Dixie Land Guide Dog Users, Inc., to assist with Program Planning, and serve as a Musical Master of Ceremonies for Top Dog Charleston, a gathering especially designed for blind individuals and sighted folks who are dedicated to making a difference within the blindness community. This January 15 thru 17, over one hundred people gathered at Charleston’s Best Western on Spring Street from all over the United States and Canada, for a weekend of fun, food, fellowship and furries (guide dogs, retired guide dogs, and future guides with their puppy raisers). Long before this event took place, I was at my trusty computer, creating spreadsheets, a file for name badges, printing flight schedules and helping to plan the itinerary for the weekend.
Opening Ceremonies began with a narrated Presentation of the Colors. Then, three of “my” kids, Shelby, Taylor and Brianna, ushered in the evening, singing our National Anthem, leading us in The Pledge of Allegiance and giving the Prayer of Invocation, respectively. My heart filled with pride as I watched these three blind youths of the Lowcountry conduct themselves with such grace and poise! After a Spirit-filled hymn sung by Taffany Bolger, my associate Miss Audrey joined me in a zany but heartfelt presentation of awards. Plaques were given to over twenty different individuals and organizations from the local community, and the Community at large.
During this weekend, I was especially honored to work with Pastor Dave Andrus, Director of Lutheran Blind Mission, St. Louis, MO. Pastor Dave came to assist with the Blessing of the Guides, and to sit on a panel of blind adults who answered questions posed by the youth as part of Saturday morning’s schedule.
An action-packed Saturday afternoon included tandem biking in the rain, narrated bus tours and an exhibit hall with eighteen vendors. The day ended with a scrumptious “Barbecue roundup”, featuring dinner music by guest musician Duncan Holmes, Elvis (AKA Mike Viljac), and “yours truly”. The event came to a close with a non-denominational Song Service on Sunday morning.
I have always believed that the best way to help the blindness community is to support blind entrepreneurs. This event was not only a shot in the arm to Charleston’s local economy. In fact, Top Dog Charleston was responsible for the employment of a blind caterer, two blind musicians, several blind artisans and a blind pet masseuse. Two blind pastors also contributed to the success of this event. Dixie Land Guide Dog Users and all who made Top Dog possible truly “walk their talk” when it comes to offering support on behalf of the blind. Thank God, and thanks all, for including Music by Laurel Jean!
© 2010 Laurel Jean Walden
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- God has blessed me with a Music Ministry that is still ongoing and growing after twenty-plus years. This includes my outreach promoting Braille Literacy in the Christian venue, and my recently-founded Children's Chaplaincy for blind youth. To make things a bit more interesting, I have also been blind since birth. I consider my blindness to be a unique gift from God, an opportunity to serve as an ambassador among blind and sighted folks of all ages, on all walks of life. To learn more about my work, from South Carolina to Central Illinois and beyond, please visit my Web site, and be sure to stay tuned to my Blog!