By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Reporter
UNDER the theme “Celebrating Our Past, Embracing Our Future”, the Salvation Army Erin H Gilmour School for Blind and Visually Impaired Children will celebrate its 65th anniversary with gala dinner featuring a former Hollywood child actor as a special guest.
The month of September will represent continuation of the activities that began earlier this year in honour of the school. The donation cost for gala, which takes place on September 19 at the British Colonial Hilton, is $65 per person.
Melanese Coakley, Salvation Army community relations associate, said a lot of people do not know that the Salvation Army is responsible for the School for the Blind, but it has been under their umbrella for the past 65 years.
“It is in a partnership where the Ministry of Education identifies the teachers and the administrators for the school, but ultimately the Salvation Army is responsible for the operational and resource side for the school. The Salvation Army Erin H Gilmour School for Blind and Visually Impaired School has made great strides in helping students to become functioning adults. We want to identify these types of persons who have been able to contribute to society as any body else can,” said Ms Coakley.
She said the school currently has 18 students and eight members on its administrative team.
At the gala, guests can expect a special presentation by guest speaker Isaac Lidsky.
Mr Lidsky is internationally known as a former child actor from the 90s’ teen sitcom, “Saved By The Bell: The New Class”. He was diagnosed at the age of 13 with retinitis pigmentosa, a rare blinding disease.
“Isaac Lidsky sees life and business through a different lens, embracing his blindness and never using it as an excuse. He founded Hope for Vision, a nonprofit that has raised millions of dollars for blinding disease research. Today, Isaac Lidsky is a chief executive officer of the Orlando Decorative Concrete Construction Company based in Central Florida and he has been able to mitigate through the volatile housing market with a vision in mind,” said Ms Coakley.
Mr Lidsky’s company is on track to start more than 3,000 Florida homes and pull in $65 million in revenue.
“Isaac has still been able to accomplish great things as a visually impaired adult. We are all looking forward to his guest speaking at the event and just letting us know how he embraces his blindness. The students will be there participating, and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Band is going to be apart of the entertainment,” said Ms Coakley.
She said an event like this is important because blind and visually impaired Bahamians are a part of society as well and they are contributing to it on a daily basis.
“There are persons that are working as any of us do and go to work and experience the same things we do. We can celebrate with these students and are happy to give the resources that they need to be productive adults,” said Ms Coakley.
On September 27, Ms Coakley said they will also be staging a fun run/walk to raise funds for the school. All interested parties can call the Salvation Army office at 393-2340 or e-mail Delisa_Armbrister@car.salvationarmy.org for additional information.