Empower Blind People and Families
On September 11, 2001 Michael Hingson was working in his office on the 78th floor of Tower One of the World Trade Center when terrorists crashed the hijacked American Airlines flight 11 into his office building just eighteen floors above him. At that time, Mike was the Mid Atlantic Regional Sales Manager for a fortune 500 computer company.
Like so many, his life changed forever on that day. Mike’s story is unusual in that he happens to be totally blind from birth.
After the attacks Mike Hingson was confronted with a choice; he could work as before selling high tech products to Wall Street firms, and firms throughout the Tri-State area or he could take a different path which opened for him. Soon after the terrorist attacks of 9-11 the press and media heard Mike’s story after his first appearance on Larry King Live. He began receiving requests to speak around the country about his experiences and to teach people the “life lessons” that helped him and his guide dog, Roselle, survive on that horrific day.
Mike chose the second path and began traveling first for Guide Dogs for the Blind as its spokesperson and then later on his own, becoming a national and international keynote speaker. He formed The Michael Hingson Group, Inc. as a platform to further his speaking career, but he also has much higher goals for his company. As Mike says, “if my life’s experiences and my escape on 9-11 mean anything at all, it is that blindness is not what holds me back. Blind people can and do have the same dreams of success and freedom as do their sighted counterparts. If I have high expectations of myself then I can use those expectations to inspire others to share the same opportunities that sighted people enjoy. I have learned that blindness is not the disability people have come to expect. Instead the real tragedy and low expectations surrounding blindness come not from being blind, but from the limiting expectations and attitudes of others about blindness and the capabilities of blind people.”
"Since Mike formed his company in July, 2008 he has inspired audiences from diverse organizations and companies. Audiences have said of mike, Since Mike formed his company in July, 2008 he has inspired audiences from diverse organizations and companies. Audiences have said of mike, “Home for Life Animal
"Sanctuary invited Michael Hingson to be our special guest and keynote speaker at our annual fundraising gala in 2014. Our supporters were very interested in hearing the first hand account of someone who had survived 9/11, especially with the dramatic elements involved in Mike's real life account of how he managed to escape thanks to the partnership he had with his guide dog. Michael was so generous with his time, signing books for our guests and graciously talking with them and answering questions. His presentation concerned compelling subjective matter- surviving 9/11 and it's aftermath, but Michael had our audience riveted -we felt s if we were experiencing what he went thru that day. He also spent setting the context, so our audience could understand and appreciate the development of Michael's rapport and working relationship with his guide dogs over his lifetime. In terms of the subject matter and ability to keep our attendees' interest during the presentation,Michael hit the ball out of the part. We were so glad to have chosen to invite him to be our special guest for our gala, and so grateful for his extraordinary presentation which made our event truly special. Thank you Michael and Africa!”
“I am a high school English teacher just outside of Chicago and just under four years ago my students built a project to help remember 9-11. They decided that they wanted to raise money to bring Michael Hingson in to speak to the class and community.
Michael was tremendously easy to work with and exceptionally accessible. It was very easy to organize the visit, as Michael helped to organize it around another area visit in an effort to cut our costs.
When Michael spoke with the students, who had read Thunder Dog, he was so personable and informative. The students benefitted tremendously from the experience. During the evening event for the community many people were moved to tears as Michael shared his personal story.
Since visiting Michael has stayed in contact, visiting a second time for a lower fee, as well as working to organize Skype sessions with current students who are reading his text. I have worked with a number of authors and Michael has easily been the easiest to work with and has been the best at keeping correspondence and staying in touch.
I would highly recommend Michael as a speaker if you are looking for someone to speak about 9-11, Blindness or Teamwork...as he did a great job with all of these subjects with us.”
“He offers an inspiring message about the importance of team work and trust, while educating all about the capabilities of people who are blind," said Young,
“Most people ask, ‘What’s a blind man doing in the World Trade Center on 9/11?' . . .sadly they don't assume that he worked there as an executive for a tech company. Audiences love Michael's story and feel uplifted and encouraged from the experience." Chuck Y.
“Michael presented during our weekly Division Conference calls. The audience was combined operations/development/training/construction/marketing.
Michael was able to impact the participants by tailoring his presentation to the key focus points the team was addressing. He was able to connect quickly and inspire through his presentation style and content..
The question and answer period at the end of his presentation was especially beneficial.
Dunkin Brands South Central Region”
But with considerable success in the corporate sector, Mike feels there is so much more to be done . “What I am not doing as well as I would like is to help those people in the U.S. and elsewhere who have recently lost or are losing their eyesight nor have I reached families with members who are becoming blind. We live in an aging population where more people are losing their sight every day. They don’t know where to turn. They do not have easily accessible resources on which to call. I want to see this change.”
Today there are many organizations that “help the blind” in one way or another. They may teach the newly blind person about using a white cane or they help get those same people readers to listen to audio books produced under the federal Talking Book program. These organizations may teach other basic skills to help a recently blind person get by in their home, but the expectations about blindness portrayed by most of these places are low when it comes to truly believing that blind people can live equally and as meaningful lives as everyone else. What few of these organizations do is to inspire our increasing number of blind persons with a new philosophy and help them realize that, as Mike says, “While we may be traveling down a slightly different lane on the road of life we are still on the same path”. There are few resources that help blind people and their families learn that they can still work, travel, and live as much as they ever did. “I want to create that resource through more speaking, life coaching seminars and sessions, and through helping people on a National scale to find the resources and tools they really need to move forward and live life to its fullest.”
The goal is to raise a minimum of $250,000 to help create the programs necessary and to develop the first educational materials that will help teach people, blind and sighted alike, that blindness is not the end of life. In July, 2015 over 3,000 blind people will convene for the 75th annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Orlando, FL. Some of the initial funding from this project will be used to travel to the convention to create a series of videos and audio stories about successful blind people as well as persons who have recently lost their sight. Those stories will form the basis of coaching seminars that will be made available to the public nationally. Later this summer and a result of online seminars around the video and audio programs the next step in our program will be to commence actual coaching sessions in online or telephone group or one on one sessions.
In addition to Mike Hingson, other knowledgeable blind experts will be involved who can help raise the expectations of participants about what blindness really means. Funding from this campaign will also be used to subsidize Mike’s talks at schools and other organizations that cannot afford to hire Mike to speak at their meetings. If you have a school or organization in mind that fits this category please contact us.
The difference between this project and what existing agencies and programs offer is a true national online interactive presence to which anyone can turn to get help about and gain knowledge about blindness. We are asking for your help to make a true difference in the lives of the millions of people in America and beyond who need a real helping hand to get back on their feet and walk with pride and confidence as blind people.