The Race for Independence is quite simply the expression of our desire to speed toward our goal of achieving first-class citizenship status in society at an ever-increasing pace. It is the anchor of the National Federation of the Blind’s Imagination Fund, the annual campaign to raise proceeds for NFB programs at the national, state, and local levels.
The Imagination Fund is the fundraising arm of the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, which opened for business on January 30, 2004. The only facility of its type in the world, the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute leads the way in developing and implementing innovative programs of education, technology, and training for the blind.
From the very beginning, the work of the Institute has been made possible by the efforts of blind and sighted men and women in communities across the nation. As supporters of the Imagination Fund (or “Imaginators”), these men and women have made annual commitments to spread the word about the work of the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute and to secure funding for its programs and initiatives.
Each year, 50 percent of proceeds raised for the National Federation of the Blind's Imagination Fund are used for programs at the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, and 50 percent are distributed among the fifty-two affiliates of the National Federation of the Blind to support local and state outreach efforts benefiting blind children, teens, youth, college students, adults, and seniors losing their vision.
At the 2007 convention in Atlanta, Georgia, the National Federation of the Blind conducted its first ever March for Independence--A Walk for Opportunity, a 5K walk-a-thon fundraising event and celebration demonstrating the independent spirit of the nation's organized blind movement and its supporters.
The 2007 March was so successful that it was repeated at the 2008 convention in Dallas, Texas, and again at the Convention in Detroit, Michigan, in 2009, netting a three-year total of well over $1.3 million for the Imagination Fund.
Since its inception in 2004, the Imagination Fund has distributed over $1 million to the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute and $1 million to NFB state and local programs. Our Imaginators are working hard to build upon this success in the 2010/2011 campaign.
Over a thousand marchers gathered in front of the Hilton Anatole hotel in Dallas, Texas, on July 2, 2008, for the second annual March for Independence--A Walk for Opportunity.
Watch the National Federation of the Blind 2008 March for Independence rally with our Braille Resolution and the unveiling of the Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar.
The Imagination Fund has proven to be a sterling example of grassroots organization and commitment since 2004. But now the time has come to pick up the pace.
2011 Imagination Fund
Blind Driver Experience
The Blind Driver Challenge™ of the National Federation of the Blind reached an important milestone on January 29, 2011, when the first public demonstration of a blind person independently operating an automobile using nonvisual interfaces was successfully held at the Daytona International Speedway. This achievement comes from the commitment and dedication of Federationists across the country. Whether it is our Blind Driver Challenge™, our education programs, or any of the other dozens of programs and services provided by the Federation at the local or national level, it always begins with gathering the resources required to build our dreams for the future.
The NFB Imagination Fund is a primary source for the financial resources that we need to build new programs. Those who help to collect those resources have the satisfaction of contributing to our future success. At our National Convention in Orlando, Florida, those who help raise considerable resources for the NFB Imagination Fund will also get to have their own Blind Driver Experience.
What is the Blind Driver Experience?
• An incredible opportunity for you and up to three of your friends to ride in the Blind Driver Challenge™ car (the same car that was driven on the famed Daytona International Speedway) while it is driven by a skilled blind driver
• An exclusive occasion to witness, up close, the nonvisual access technology that makes it possible for a blind person to drive while experiencing a ride in the second generation Blind Driver vehicle
• A unique chance to dialogue with a trained blind driver about the technology, the experience of testing the technology, and future interfaces for blind driving
Thirty of this year’s Imaginators will have the honor of participating in the Blind Driver Experience during the convention. The top ten Imaginators in overall dollars raised will automatically be selected to participate. The remaining twenty spots will be drawn at random from the pool of individuals who raised at least $1,000 and who plan to be in attendance at the convention.
In order to be eligible to participate in the Blind Driver Experience you must:
• Register for the Race for Independence (www.raceforindependence.org, or call 410-659-9314 ext. 2371)
• Raise at least $1,000 or more no later than June 15, 2011
• Register for the 2011 National Convention
• If selected, be available at the appointed time during the convention (participating individuals will be assigned a ride time on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 5)
The Blind Driver Experience is well earned recognition and a well deserved celebration of your involvement in helping build opportunities for all blind people through your active participation in the NFB Imagination Fund.
Race for Independence
2009-2010 Medallion Recipients
Mary Ellen Jernigan
Jack and Pat Munson
Top Ten Teams
Ruff Ruff Pet Care
Captain Ken's Team
Central Oklahoma Imaginators
Team Moe & May Whitaker
Florida Organization of Parents of Blind Children