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Hosted by Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired

 

With Admiration, Appreciation, and Love

Phil Hatlen

Donna, I have known you since your son, Bruce, was a baby.  You lived in San Jose, and Bruce was on the caseload of the Blind Babies Foundation when I was its Executive Director.  I remember you at that time as being an eager learner, an assertive and effective parent, and one to whom other parents turned for leadership.

Some years later, we discovered one another at different phases in our lives.  You were living in Los Cruces, and Bruce was at the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  I was at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  We met over the National Agenda.  When it was time to bite the bullet and decide whether professionals were really serious about bringing in parents as partners in the National Agenda effort, up stepped Donna Stryker.  It was a natural for you and I to be co-chairs of the National Agenda for almost ten years. 

I treasure those years with you.  First, because you epitomized the parent/professional partnership that has been the foundation of the National Agenda since its inception.  I always thought I understood what a parent partnership meant, then I had this experience with you, and I discovered that I had only a superficial idea of the love and investment that parents of blind and visually impaired children have in their childrens life.  Your commitment to Bruce was complete and your love of Bruce unconditional.  You learned and grew, and became an informed advocate for your son.

Donna, I have never walked in your shoes, but you have the deepest and most sincere appreciation from me that you did it right.

Many times, you and I would go to various groups and states and explain the National Agenda.  Many times, I felt like sitting down and letting you captivate the audience with your stories as a parent and as an inspired advocate.

Your contributions to the beginnings of the National Agenda are beyond description.  If   I could have chosen any parent in the country to get the National Agenda off the ground and running, I could not have picked a better person than you

You have not only taught me much about being a parent of a blind child, you have taught me so much about how to be a good friend.

I love and cherish our relationship.