Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Helen Keller

Sorry I'm day late celebrating your birthday, Helen.  

This remarkable woman, one of my heroes, was born on June 27 1880, in Tuscumbia, Alabama.  At 19 months the healthy toddler contracted scarlet fever, which left her deaf and blind.  At a time in history when disabled persons were more or less hidden away, Helen mastered sign language and Braille and learned to speak and type.  She went on to live an extraordinary life as an author, lecturer, activist and humanitarian.

Helen at age 7, about 5 months after her teacher Anne Sullivan came to unlock her silent world.
Anne Sullivan presented this doll when she came as Helen's Teacher

 Helen earned a BA cum laude from Radcliffe College in 1904.  She was the first blind-deaf person to do so.  She traveled and spoken not only across the United States, but to 35 countries on 5 continents.  She met numerous celebrities and world leaders throughout her lifetime including Winston Churchill, Jawaharlal Nehru, Golda Meir and all the Presidents from Grover Cleveland through John F. Kennedy.  She received many awards and honorary doctoral degrees in the U.S. and around the world.

Anne Sullivan is spelling into Helen's hand.  She read Helen's textbooks and translated lectures for her throughout her college years.  She traveled the world with Helen and served her for 50 years.  Anne died in 1936.

In 1915, she founded Helen Keller International, which is one of the world’s premier international not-for-profit organizations dedicated to preventing blindness and reducing malnutrition.  It is still in operation.

Helen Keller suffered a stroke in 1960 and died in her sleep at her home in Arcan Ridge, her home in Westport, Connecticut, in 1968 at age 87 just 26 days shy of her 88th birthday.  Click here to see several clips about this amazing woman.

Helen was young when her parents contacted Alexander Graham Bell, who was developing hearing aids at that time.  He put them in touch with the Perkins Institute, and they sent Anne Sullivan to be her teacher.


Friend Mark Twain helped her acquire her college tuition.
Patty Duke portrayed Helen in The Miracle Worker.  You should definitely watch this movie if you haven't!

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