On Friday, June 26, Mesa College student Kelvin Crosby, was one of five young adults to meet President Barack Obama, who became one of the very few sitting American Presidents to personally greet and welcome persons who are deaf-blind to the White House Oval Office.
The group featured five young adults (Kelvin Crosby, Crystal Morales, Virginia Jordan, Divya Goel, and Jason Corning) affiliated with the Helen Keller National Center ("HKNC"). They included a musician with two CDs to her credit, a surfer and aspiring field goal kicker, a Cum Laude graduate who wants to start a school, an aspiring restaurant manager, and a winner of the Wisconsin Council for Exceptional Children "Yes I Can" award for Advocacy and Independent Living. Two staff members and three volunteers from the HKNC also joined the young adults.
They were in D.C. to celebrate Helen Keller Deaf-Blind Awareness Week. This year’s theme for the week was Deaf-Blindness Didn’t Stop with Helen Keller. The focus of the week was to demonstrate that successful deaf-blind persons are still thriving and excelling long after Helen Keller. The deaf-blind activist was born June 28, 1880.
Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy, reported on the group’s visit on the White House blog. They visited the White House in the morning, where they received a tour of the public residence. From hanging out in the First Lady’s East Reception Room, to playing the same piano played by Stevie Wonder, to visiting the China Room, the tour was a major hit with the young adults. They returned in the afternoon for the icing on the already incredibly rich cake to take a photo with the President in the Oval Office. The President congratulated the young adults on their accomplishments and reminded them that we remain committed to improving the lives of people with disabilities.
"The experience was a rush – a life-changing one for me,” said Kelvin, now back on campus and resuming summer classes. “I’m honored to be able to represent deaf-blind people all over the USA,"
“He shook my hand, asked me my name, where went to school, and my major,” reported Kelvin of his meeting with the President, who wondered about proper protocol when the President reached down to pet Jerry, Kelvin’s working dog. (Petting or talking to the seeing-eye dog is not proper etiquette because it distracts the dog from his job, which is important for the safety of its owner.) “I thought about correcting him… but decided to let it go,” said the young diplomat.
Kelvin has the communication disorder known as Usher Syndrome, which affects both hearing and vision. He is a former student of the Helen Keller School in New York, and was picked to be a part of the group because of his passion to motivate people and the impact he made on others while at the school.
If you haven’t guessed, the 21-year-old Clairemont resident is also the surfer and aspiring field-goal kicker. He tries out for the Mesa College Olympian football team on July 13.