The Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce recently hosted an extraordinary presentation.  Major Scott Smiley was the featured keynote speaker.  Major Smiley, a graduate of West Point and an impressive leader, shared his message of “Perseverance”.  You see, Major Smiley had a story to tell.  He was blinded by a suicide car bomb in Mosul, Iraq in 2005; a seemingly devastating incident that changes a life.  Our first reaction might suggest it was a blow that would stop most of us in our tracks.

Instead, Major Smiley continued to rebuild, achieve, lead and remarkably became the first blind active duty officer in military history.

Due to the nature of my professional position, perhaps you thought my comments would focus on overcoming blindness.  But Major Smiley had an important underlying message:  it was teamwork that allowed him to achieve his many accomplishments before, during and after Iraq.  He relied on a foundation of trust and teamwork again and again to advance his trait of perseverance that served him so well.

So as a community, can we be ready to make teamwork work for people with disabilities in the Lehigh Valley?

With the support of a community willing and open to teaming up with people with disabilities, I’m confident that perseverance will help them succeed and thrive.


Douglas A. Yingling, Executive Director Center for Vision Loss