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White Cane Day slows traffic at local intersection

By Staff | Oct 16, 2009

During busy Thursday morning traffic, a group of individuals — both visually impaired and fully sighted — crossed a local roadway to bring awareness to National White Cane Day White.
There were three incidents within one half-hour period where someone could have been hurt, according to organizer Doreen King, who has been busy with several events to promote the day and the cause.
“It’s been a great success,” she said. “We are getting awareness for what a white cane means.
“What we want to do is educate people about the White Cane Act,” King said. “The White Cane Act is that people using white canes have the right-of-way crossing any street. Most don’t know the law about right-of-way to those with white canes.”
Doris Hammer, of North Fort Myers, was one participant.
“I have a son who has eye trouble since birth, so I’ve been active with those type of organizations, associated with vision. We just moved here and learned of the Lion’s Club commitment to it,” she said.
“Crossing today was a scary feeling — learning what the blind have to go through,” Hammer said. “You manage to get through life with what you have, but these are true overcomers.”
Lee County Sheriff’s Office analyst Evan Connell, who is legally blind, also crossed the street.
“I also wanted to bring awareness to White Cane Day,” he said. “We got with the sheriff who was fully behind helping us with this, giving us full backing and support, along with Deputy Jarrod Cantrell.”
Police helped with the event, which Connell said was a reminder for law enforcement as well.
Douglas Fowler, executive director of the Visually Impaired Persons Center in North Fort Myers, was an active participant.
“It’s important people know about this, and understand that white canes have the right-of-way to travel safely across an intersection,” he said. “If you see someone with a white cane, you must yield, no matter what traffic signals are.”
King said she and others are petitioning the state Legislature to make White Cane Act — or at least one question about it — part of all driver’s license tests.
King enjoys working with the local Lion’s Club as chairwoman of the membership committee. Several Lions attended Thursday’s event.
“We need new members,” King said.
Lions are well known for their work with the visually impaired.
The club meets at noon on the third Wednesday of each month at Buddy Freddy’s Restaurant, located at the corner of Pine Island Road and Business 41.
Agencies that will benefit from this month’s activities, including a walk-a-thon, include the Blinded Veterans Association, Cape Coral Lions for Lions Camp, Florida Council For the Blind Southwest Chapter, VIP of Visually Impaired Persons Center in North Fort Myers and the Southeastern Guide Dogs, the only school in Florida that provides service dogs and guide dogs to the visually impaired.
Other groups that will benefit are Pets For Patriots, which provides guide dogs for visually impaired veterans of Iraq, and the Radio Reading Service.
King was part of the 6th Annual Vision Awareness Walkathon held Oct. 3 at Lakes Regional Park in Fort Myers. Later Thursday, she treaded water in her community pool to raise funds for the Florida Council For The Blind, with pledges for how long she lasted.
King is visually impaired.
“Last year I floated for four hours and 15 minutes, which totaled $770 in pledges,” she said. “Total fund-raising last year was $12,000. My goal this year is $1,000.”
To get involved with the local Lions Club or for more information, call King at 217-0174.