Louisville Gathering Rapidly Approaching

by Christina Hitchcock

A Milestone 70th Reunion

The Blinded Veterans Association extends an invitation to you and your family to join us in Louisville, Kentucky, for the 70th National Convention August 17-21! If you have never been to a BVA convention, we urge you to bring your voice and your vote to “The Gateway to the South!” The hotel staff and BVA volunteers are eager to make your visit as memorable as they can, but the first step is for you to attend.

Louisville is situated along the border between Kentucky and Indiana and on the Ohio River in Northcentral Kentucky at the river’s falls. Although it is a city within a technically southern state, Louisville is influenced by both southern and mid-western culture. It is referred to as both one of the northernmost southern cities or as one of the southernmost northern cities in the United States.

As part of Kentucky's Bluegrass Region, Louisville’s development has been influenced by its location on the Ohio River, which spurred Louisville's growth from an isolated campsite into a major shipping port.

We have listened to the feedback of past attendees and have expanded the education and information sessions. By joining us in Louisville, you will meet fellow veterans and their families while learning more about programs, services, tools, and devices that may benefit you. In addition, you will gain knowledge and experience to share with your regional groups and other veterans. We encourage you to get involved and support the mission reflected in the BVA motto “Blinded Veterans Helping Blinded Veterans.”

BVA has a proud history. Nevertheless, we need your guidance for the future. We must strive to improve access to rehabilitation and services for all of America’s blind and visually impaired.

We hope you will join us during the orientation sessions that will highlight our history and legislative successes. These sessions set the stage for what the organization now does and where it may go in the future. Your voice and vote are critical in the process of considering newly proposed bylaw amendments, resolutions, and the election of new officers.
August 17-18 will feature informational, educational sessions while the business meetings will take center stage August 19-21.

Ground Transportation And Downtown Marriott


The convention will be held at the Louisville Downtown Marriott Hotel. The Marriott offers a vast array of amenities that are sure to please this year’s attendees. It features a location unmatched among downtown Louisville hotels. The venue is near 4th Street Live, the Kentucky International Convention Center, the KFC Yum! Center, and Waterfront Park (see cover and cover description on page 2). It is located eight miles from the Louisville International Airport.

We have two recommended transportation options from the airport to the hotel: Yellow Cap and SanDollar Limousine. Reservations for the hotel can be made by calling 1-800-228-9290. When securing reservations over the phone, please be sure to indicate your affiliation with the Blinded Veterans Association. The room block code is “BVA ”.

The room rate is $106.00 August 16-22 (Sunday through Saturday) plus the tax rate in effect at the time of checkout. That rate is at 16.06 percent at press time. Participants are urged to reserve rooms as far in advance as possible with July 17 being the deadline to receive the BVA rate.

Hotel restaurants are BLU Italian Grille, Champions Sports Bar and Restaurant, Starbucks (coffee, tea, and pastries), and in-room dining available 24 hours a day. Menus for the restaurants will be emailed in advance of the convention to all registered attendees so that they will already be aware of the options upon arrival.

Convention Registration, Outside Activities


BVA mailed convention announcements in mid-May to all members. If you did not receive your notice, please contact Membership Coordinator Cecilia Montenegro to confirm your mailing address. Members must request a registration package or go to the BVA Convention webpage to download the registration form and other information (www.bva.org/convention). The registration fee is $100 per person for members and a guest, $180 for non-members. To request a registration package, please email me, Christina Hitchcock, at chitchcock@bva.org.

Louisville sightseeing and activities include the following:

• Churchill Downs
• Kentucky Derby Museum
• Louisville Slugger Museum
• Glass Works
• Louisville Extreme Park
• Woodford Reserve Distillery

For more organized tours, the following are available (these tours are not being coordinated by BVA):

• Frazier History Tour (Contact Frazier History Museum Staff, 502-753-1034) 
• Kentucky Derby Museum Tour and Churchill Downs (Contact Derby Museum Staff, 502-637-1111) 
• Louisville Slugger Bat Factory Tour and Louisville Slugger Museum, Main Street (Contact Louisville Slugger Staff, 502-588-7228)

Previewing This Year’s Father Carroll Luncheon 


By Mike Hudson, Director
Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind

In May of 2014, the Museum at the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) in Louisville received a shipping pallet from Boston stacked with sturdy cardboard boxes. The 40 boxes contained the life work of Father Thomas Carroll (1909-1971), transferred to the museum as part of a partnership with the Carroll Center for the Blind to preserve the Carroll legacy.

Father Carroll was a figure of giant proportions in the blindness field. As the Assistant Director of Boston’s Catholic Guild for the Blind, he also became the Chaplain for the U.S. Army’s two rehabilitation centers for blinded soldiers during World War II. He emerged as not only the spiritual leader of a group that would push the boundaries of every aspect of what it meant to be blind, but he worked to bridge the significant divide between war and civilian blind throughout his life.

If there was a national committee, anywhere, Father Carroll served on it. If you had a banquet, he was your first choice for the keynote address. His trailblazing book, “Blindness,” published first in 1961, is still considered required reading.

Unfortunately, a flood in the basement of the original St. Paul’s Rehabilitation Center, which Father Carroll originally furnished with Army surplus camp equipment when he opened it in 1954, left the collection in poor condition. Staff members at APH are painstakingly removing each rusted staple, replacing ruined file folders, and organizing the collection for use. It contains decades of correspondence between Father Carroll and virtually every leader within the blindness field. Although almost every topic is addressed, it is particularly strong in the areas of Orientation and Mobility, blindness and geriatrics, blindness and psychiatry, blinded veterans, blindness and hearing, and vocational rehabilitation.

The most wonderful thing about this collection is the juxtaposition of Father Carroll the priest, the administrator, the healer, the counselor, the reformer, and the visionary, with Father Carroll the very human fellow who had trouble quitting smoking and who ranted against fragrance gardens but loved to buy gadgets out of the back of magazines. They are all there together—super hero and completely ordinary man.

As the director of the museum at APH since 2005, I will attempt in my Father Carroll Luncheon presentation to capture the unique relationship between “Father Tom” and the Blinded Veterans Association he helped to found at Avon Old Farms Army Convalescent Hospital in 1945.

Father Carroll himself was the featured luncheon speaker for the organization 21 times between 1946 and 1971. Throughout this service as BVA’s National Chaplain, he was at times a friend, at times an advisor, and at times a prophet just down from the mountain.

At times Father Carroll also came to the BVA events to deliver a well-earned trip to the proverbial woodshed. Whatever Tom Carroll came to say, he said it straight to one’s face, whether to one or to an entire audience. On August 20 in Louisville, I will share some of those classic lines gathered from 25 years of his close association with blinded veterans and BVA.