Rhett Hermer to HKNC for Deaf/Blind

                                           Rhett is  deaf and going blind.

                                                        Deaf and blind.

                                  A  world of  total silence and darkness.


We are raising  money to send Rhett to the  Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind   to  learn skills and acquire tools that will allow him  to live, work & thrive.

Rhett plans to take those skills and help others in the same situation as him in his home country of South Africa.


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Professor Claudine Storbeck , Rhett’s life mentor that answered his cry for help, she founded and heads up Deaf Studies at University of Witwaterand in South Africa. When Rhett returns from HKNC training, Professor Storbeck envisions me working with her department by creating a new division dedicated to Deaf-Blind issues in South Africa.

With all these valuable skills learned and acquired from HKNC, Rhett will go back to South Africa and take these newly acquired skills back with him, passionate about passing them onto people like him who lack the facilities to acquire them at home and make the world a better place for people like him. Rhett will follow Helen Keller’s example, making them proud by passing on what he has learnt to assist deaf-blind people at home in South Africa.

Although there is some support for blind people and deaf people, none exists for Deaf-Blind. With the skills Rhett will acquire at the HKNC, Rhett intends to change that with Claudine's guidance, to build support structures and awareness.

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The 32 week recommended program, costing $1,250 per week including board, lodging & tuition,  is more than Rhett or his family can afford.

The total cost, including flights from South Africa will be in excess of $40,000, but we are starting the campaign at $25,000 and will increase if the campaign is successful. 


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Subject: RE: GFM - goal recommendations
Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2018 13:45:20 +0000


Rhett,

I recommend one evaluation period of six weeks and two training periods of 13 weeks each for a total of 32 weeks to be on the safe side of everything. We can cross the bridge if more periods of training are needed in the future. A period of one evaluation and one training period to two training periods are average within the agency. So based on this recommendation of 32 weeks, you will need $36,800 (32 weeks plus $1,150 per week). That would be my recommendation. 

If you finish early (one evaluation and one training period), you can use the left over money to purchase the equipment you need to live independently or to do something in South Africa for the Deafblind community there. 

Thoughts?

Name Deleted for Privacy

Name deleted for Privacy, MA, MS
Associate Executive Director
Helen Keller National Center
141 Middle Neck Road
Sands Point, New York 11050
(516) XXX-XXXX Videophone/Voice (VP)
(516) XXX-XXXX(Fax)
www.helenkeller.org/hknc 

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32255068_1534633875752416_r.jpeg


Introduction – Who is Rhett?

Rhett is an awesome guy.

Rhett has a passion for awesome things. Things like reading compelli­­­­ng novels, a passion for technology. And a passionate love of food as an amateur cook.



Past Chapter Journey

As a profoundly deaf individual at his birth, all his life has never known the concept of sounds, the beauty of music, the joy of hearing beautiful voices. Rhett has overcome his challenges living in a world of total silence.  Rhett learned to lip-read and use sign language.

Rhett was introduced to computers at an early age. Spent countless hours on the computer exploring the possibilities, of what a piece of technological marvel could do.

Not only being deaf, Rhett has vision issues - he has tunnel vision and weak vision. Having tunnel vision means Rhett is constantly bumping the sides of his arms when he is not careful and attentive when navigating the environment.  He has a degree of night vision issues, struggling to see in dark and dim places.  Rhett prefers well-lit places and gets frustrated when having to navigate dark areas.


Present Chapter Journey

Rhett was diagnosed as having Usher Syndrome 2. A very rare condition, that according to estimates effect around 25 000 – 50 000 individuals in United States, out of 300+ million. Very rare. This condition means that Rhett’s vision is gradually deteriorating.

Rhett is going blind. Deaf and blind. Total world of silence and darkness.

Rhett has long learnt to cope in a world of silence. Now he is struggling to cope in the slowly approaching darkness.

Rhett’s passion for things in life has ceased completely. Cannot read anymore, one of the few pleasures that have made life bearable. Cannot watch movies anymore. Struggling to work with computers. Cannot cook anymore.

His job in technology is almost over, Rhett is currently in the process of losing his employment. He has been with the same company for more than seventeen years. He is struggling extremely hard to deliver his work as his vision is making productivity slower and harder...

Rhett struggles to navigate the world, trying to navigate the obstacles around him.  In recent years Rhett needs a guide to assist him to navigate his environment. In recent months he is now having difficulties navigating his familiar environment such as his home, room, bathroom and workplace.

Rhett is in a place of darkness and despair, depressed, angry and confused about his vision being lost forever. He tried to seek help to navigate his new reality and nobody was capable of understanding the needs of a deaf-blind individual. Rhett remembered an amazing person he got to know during his younger years. He contacted her. The connection was sporadic until the beginning of this year, when Rhett got lost in depths of darkness and despair, he cried out to her. She visited him in that evening. Rhett got to meet Claudine again after decades. Claudine saw him and saw he was the same Rhett that she always knew. Claudine told him of a place in America and a conference. She took Rhett to this place on Long Island, New York in April. Spent an entire day exploring and learning the vast array of opportunities this place can offer to Rhett.

He was truly stunned and elated, a ray of hope in this very scary new reality.

For a moment of Rhett’s life, he stepped out of darkness and felt a spark of hope. He remembered the most important words that his boss had taught him: embrace. Rhett wants to embrace everything this institute has to offer and learn to live life as a deaf-blind person with confidence.

After visiting this extraordinary institute, Rhett and Claudine, --now his new life mentor—travelled to a conference dedicated to the world of deaf - blind individuals. Rhett was astounded at what he learnt there. Rhett’s vision being almost non-existent needed a special interpreter to follow the proceedings as seen in the picture below.


32255068_1534632938335850_r.jpeg
As he is no longer able to lip-read or read the signing interpreter at a distance - he must hold onto the interpreter’s hands and understand the signs by this method. This is a method deaf-blind individuals use to communicate.


New Chapter Journey

Rhett’s new journey, a dream for now, will start at this very special institute. It is named after an extraordinary lady. It’s located in Long Island, New York. It’s the Helen Keller National Centre. (HKNC).

Rhett has made the decision to live again and at the present time, all he wishes for is to start attending HKNC immediately, as the learning process will be more successful with the remaining amount of vision.

HKNC will teach Rhett to develop new life survival skills in order to be an awesome deaf-blind guy living with confidence in a world of complete silence and darkness for rest of his life.

At HKNC, Rhett will learn Orientation and Mobility (O&M) skills. O&M will give him the tools to navigate the environment, both outdoors and in his own home.

At HKNC they will train Rhett to read in braille. Read amazing novels in braille. Special braille devices connected to computers and iPhones which will enable him to communicate with the world.

 HKNC will teach communication skills, which will teach Rhett to communicate with everybody, using an amazing method called Tactile ASL.

At HKNC, Rhett will be able to continue his passion for technology, learning how to harness it to its best effect as a deaf-blind individual.

 

HKNC will train Rhett in valuable life-long skills, like being able to return to the kitchen and cook again.

These skills will give him the ability to become human again, to participate in his environment and the world around him. These skills will literally save his life.


Future Chapters

Professor Claudine Storbeck, Rhett’s life mentor that answered his cry for help, she founded and heads up Deaf Studies at University of Wittswaterand in South Africa. When Rhett returns from HKNC training, Professor Storbeck envisions me working with her department by creating a new division dedicated to Deaf-Blind issues in South Africa.

With all these valuable skills learned and acquired from HKNC, Rhett will go back to South Africa and take these newly acquired skills back with him, passionate about passing them onto people like him who lack the facilities to acquire them at home and make the world a better place for people like him. Rhett will follow Helen Keller’s example, making them proud by passing on what he has learnt to assist deaf-blind people at home in South Africa.

Although there is some support for blind people and deaf people, none exists for Deaf-Blind. With the skills Rhett will acquire at the HKNC, Rhett intends to change that with Claudine's guidance, to build support structures and awareness


Rhett is READY to start now!

Living a life in total silence and darkness is a living nightmare.

Rhett is in free fall into an abyss of despair trying to cope right now. He desperately wishes to cease falling and start soaring to the sky with all of the possibilities that HKNC has to offer.

Unfortunately, Rhett hasn’t been able to secure funding to start at HKNC despite an exhaustive effort. HKNC is not able to provide Rhett with any financial assistance as the institute is federally funded and Rhett of course is not an American citizen. Many scholarship funds follow the same rule, funding to US citizens only, which Rhett agrees with. Hence the quest to raise private funds. Rhett will appreciate whatever amount you are able to donate, no amount is too small, every bit counts and will get him closer to the $40,000 goal for a 32 week stay. His one and only wish right now is for help securing funds for his new chapter at HKNC. After HKNC, he will make his donors proud by making the world a better place for people like him.

Rhett wants to end his nightmare by starting HKNC today with support from donors like you.

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Organizer

Reuel Crook 
Organizer
Lake Zurich, IL
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