FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – Michael Hingson was born without eyesight and is touring the nation with a message.
He delivered that message Friday to several Fort Worth Schools and a meeting of city leaders at the Fort Worth Rotary Club.
“We should not assume that because a person does not have eyesight they cannot think and cannot be as normal in the world as the rest of us,” Hingson told the Rotary Club audience.
Hingson was able to function normally when the world was far from normal in New York on September 11, 2001.
“I was on the 78th floor of Tower One,” Hingson recalled. “I was the Mid-Atlantic regional sales manager for a computer company.”
Hingson had his guide dog Roselle with him. He didn’t see what happened – he didn’t need to.
“We heard a muffled explosion and then the building shuttered and started to tip which it was made to do,” Hingson said. “As a blind person, I think its my obligation to know what to do in an emergency and not have to wait for someone to come and say, ‘You’ve got to leave.’ When I got on the stairs I could smell the odor. And it took me a couple of floors to realize what I was smelling were the fumes from burning jet fuel.
Roselle and Hingson worked as a team to race down 78-stories of stairs and escape into the streets below.
And then he heard a terrible noise.
“It sounded like a combination of a freight train and a waterfall as it collapsed,” Hingson said. “And everyone ran for their lives. I ran. Roselle, my guide dog at the time with me ran. And roselle wound in and out of people and we just kept running. And when I told her, ‘Turn right,’ because we were coming up to a street, she’d turn right. And we just kept running.”
Eventually they found shelter in a subway station. Hingson wrote a best-selling book about his ordeal titled, “Thunder Dog; The True Story of a Blind man, His Guide Dog & the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero.”
And if you think a blind man escaping The World Trade Center is a miracle, Hingson says you’re wrong.
“What people need to understand is that blindness isn’t the disability I face,” said Hingson. “The real disability is the misconceptions and attitudes people have about blindness.”
And that’s the message Hingson carries from Ground Zero in New York to the rest of country today.
To find more educational material about and services for the blind: http://www.lighthousefw.org/
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