My First BVA Convention: What a Joy

by Warner Murray

My first Blinded Veterans Association convention, the recent 70th celebration, was truly an experience like no other and one for a lifetime. It was a total success and praised highly by many members from all of the districts and many regional groups with whom I spoke.

Volunteers Gay Broughton and Pamela Winegarden (seated) of Seymour, Indiana, and Jabree Alexander of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, helped make the 70th National Convention a happy gathering of blinded veterans and their families.
Volunteers Gay Broughton and Pamela Winegarden (seated) of Seymour, Indiana, and Jabree Alexander of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, helped make the 70th National Convention a happy gathering of blinded veterans and their families.

I was very enthralled with the completeness in planning and coordinating the events. The educational seminars were very informative. I attended at least six of them along with 12 vendor booths and a bus outing to the Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind.

American Printing House for the Blind Museum Director Mike Hudson stirs Father Carroll Luncheon attendees with moving quotations from historic addresses by the revered National Chaplain over a 26-year timespan of service to blinded veterans and their families.
American Printing House for the Blind Museum Director Mike Hudson stirs Father Carroll Luncheon attendees with moving quotations from historic addresses by the revered National Chaplain over a 26-year timespan of service to blinded veterans and their families.

The memorial luncheon in honor of Father Carroll was very nice and relaxed. There were a number of speakers but I was most impressed with Mike Hudson’s passionately delivered presentation that quoted Father Carroll’s speeches from the past on subjects such as discrimination, unfairness, loyalty, and the necessary provisions to build a greater society. The speech illustrated Father Carroll’s mission to fight against the injustices dealt to blind veterans and the disabled in general, and our organization’s astounding history, strengths, and needs.

Being able to vote on resolutions and national officers proved to be invigorating for me.
 
The grand finale, the Awards Banquet, thrilled me with its classy format and top-notch service. The pristine and elegant décor of the arrangements—plates, glasses, and silverware— was something out of Diner’s Magazine.  The awards were given to persons of outstanding achievement and dedication to BVA. The results of a raffle of the BVA Auxiliary were also announced. I did not win anything but was very pleased to have donated to a major cause. That cause was a number of scholarships for family members of blinded veterans. The banquet ended with a prayer of good health and safety for all.

 Jim Justesen, left, accepts bronze gavel on behalf of Minnesota Regional Group from outgoing National President Mark Cornell.
Jim Justesen, left, accepts bronze gavel on behalf of Minnesota Regional Group from outgoing National President Mark Cornell.

My stay at the Louisville Downtown Marriott Hotel was comfortable and the service was very professional. I urge all members to attend at least one convention during their lifetime. We, the members of the New York Regional Group, salute the entire staff, the Board of Directors, and especially Convention Manager Ms. Christina Hitchcock for her diligence, compassion, and continuous effort that made the convention so successful. 

I wake up in the morning, seeking the light,  
Forgetting the darkness I'm in day and night. 
I face my challenges with all my might, 
The BVA has truly restored my sight, 
By giving me a purpose to stay in the fight.


At Saturday morning 5K Run, Walk, and Roll through Waterfront Park and across the Big Four Bridge connecting Kentucky and Indiana, BVA members Danny Wallace, Mark Wilson (guide dog Murphy), Joe Bogart, Paul Mimms (guide dog Brook-Lyn), Phil Farris, and Darryl Goldsmith (guide dog Floozy).
At Saturday morning 5K Run, Walk, and Roll through Waterfront Park and across the Big Four Bridge connecting Kentucky and Indiana, BVA members Danny Wallace, Mark Wilson (guide dog Murphy), Joe Bogart, Paul Mimms (guide dog Brook-Lyn), Phil Farris, and Darryl Goldsmith (guide dog Floozy).

Warner Murray joined BVA in September 2014 and was soon thereafter elected vice president of the New York Regional Group. He was also a candidate for national office this past summer.