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Stephen Kerr's Blog




Braille Awareness Day

Have you ever seen or felt what Braille is like? Have you ever run your fingers across a page of Braille? If not, have you always been curious to find out? Your chance comes this Saturday, June 25, as the Austin Council of the Blind hosts a Braille Awareness Day at Barnes & Noble, 10000 Research Blvd. in the Arboretum from 1 to 4 Pm. Come see what the alphabet looks like in Braille, along with books that contain both Braille and print so blind and sighted children can read together, and watch a demonstration of different writing tools used to write Braille. As a special treat, have your name or a special message written in Braille for you to keep. For more information about the Braille Awareness Day, visit: http://www.acbaustin.org/bn_braille-awareness.htm In conjunction with Braille Awareness Day, Barnes & Noble is also hosting a Book Fair, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Austin Council of the Blind. The Book Fair will run from June 25 through June 30. Virtually any item purchased at Barnes & Noble can be used to support the Book Fair. If you shop online, all you have to do is enter the code 10512481 at checkout, and a percentage of your purchase price benefits the Austin Council of the Blind. For further instructions on how to shop in support of the Book Fair, visit: http://www.acbaustin.org/bn_bookfair_2011.htm
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Bowling For Blind Baseball

Once a year, I get the privilege of emceeing an annual Bowl-a-thon that benefits an Austin area beep baseball team, to raise money for them to travel to the sport's annual World Series. What is beep baseball? It's a modified version of baseball played by blind individuals. The ball has an electronic mechanism that beeps, and the cone-shaped foam bases emit a buzzing sound, allowing the runner to hear where the base is. The Bowl-a-thon is more than just a fundraiser, though. It's a chance for blind and sighted people to come together, bowl a couple of games, and just have fun. All proceeds go to the Austin Blackhawks, a team that has been in existence since 1986, and is the proud winner of several World Series championships. I happen to be a former player, although I haven't swung a bat in a game in over 20 years. The World Series of Beep Baseball is held each August in a different city, and the Blackhawks have been every year for as long as I can remember. This year's Bowl-a-thon will be held this Saturday, Feb. 12, at Highland Lanes, 8909 Burnet Rd. from 1 to 3. It's $15 per person, and you get to bowl two games. There are also door prizes given generously by numerous local businesses, and many merchants also sponsor a lane. The 2011 Beep Baseball World Series is coming up July 31-August 7 in Indianapolis. Watch this video to find out more about how the game is played: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNXqN_QVmpk
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A Not-So-Easy A After All

What happens when telling a little white lie paints you as the most promiscuous girl in school? That's what a scheming student, played by Emma Stone, discovers in "Easy A", a contemporary high school comedy based on the Nathaniel Hawthorne classic "The Scarlet Letter". The movie, rated Pg-13 and directed by Will Gluck, debuts in theaters this weekend. Majic 95.5 had a special screening of the film this past Tuesday at the Regal Gateway Stadium 16. See a trailer here: http://www.sonypictures.com/previews/movies/easya/
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Little Horses, Big Hearts

I recently became familiar with a wonderful local nonprofit organization called Minis and Friends whose mission is to share the love and spirit of miniature horses to people who are suffering mentally, physically, or emotionally. This group of horse lovers shares their mobile herd of trained miniature horses free of charge with children's shelters, schools, hospice centers, group homes, and many other places to interact with people of all ages. They may be children with disabilities, at-risk youth, or elder adults. In a world filled with stress and suffering of all kinds, these caring people and their calm, gentle minis provide a welcome comfort. I am always happy to recognize individuals and groups that do their part to give something back to the community in which they live and work. Minis and Friends has various activities and fundraisers in many parts of the Austin area, so I hope you'll join me in attending some of them. If you'd like to know more about Minis and Friends, you can watch this segment from YouTube, or visit http://www.minisandfriends.org/ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8YHPUE7Fhc
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My Friend Bertha

A couple of weeks ago, my son James and I went to the UT football spring scrimmage. Other than getting a nasty sunburn (I usually don't think of sunscreen this early), we had a great time. I think he and I made a new friend: Big Bertha, the drum. Check out this pic.
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Bowling For Baseball

Once a year, I emcee a bowl-a-thon for the Austin Blackhawks, a team that plays a sport called Beep Baseball. Yes, the name is as it sounds: a game that uses a beeping baseball, and it's played by the blind. The ball itself is actually a large softball with an electronic mechanism inside that emits a beeping sound once the pin is pulled out. I played the game myself years ago, and I'm here to tell you, it's every bit as competitive as regular baseball, or any sport, for that matter. There's even a World Series of Beep Baseball, held every year in early August. The bowl-a-thon helps raise money to send the Blackhawks to play in the World Series, which will be held this year in Rochester, Minnesota. The proceeds come from a registration fee to bowl, as well as corporations who sponsor individual lanes. The event is always a lot of fun. Each bowler gets to bowl two games, but it's not a competition. It's just a way to get together, have fun, and help a great cause. Best of all, blind and sighted people can bowl together (blind bowlers use a portable rail to feel their way along the lane). The event has been going on for about the last 17 years, and usually raises several thousand dollars each year to cover the Blackhawks' expenses to the Series. This year's bowl-a-thon will take place this Saturday, Feb. 13, from 1 to 3 at Highland Lanes, 8909 Burnet Rd. Registration begins after 12 noon, and it's $20 a person. Anyone, blind or sighted, is welcome to participate. Who knows? You might even win one of the many door prizes I'll be giving away, generously donated by local businesses. If you're curious to find out more about Beep Baseball, check out the official website of the National Beep Baseball Association, the governing organization of the sport: http://www.nbba.org/ Hope to see you Saturday!
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A Child's Initiative

Stephen poses with 12-year-old Josh at the Samuels Diamonds Majic Of Christmas toy drop This past weekend, I went to Samuels Diamonds in Round Rock, at Lafrontera, for one of our Majic Of Christmas toy donation drops. I've been involved in every single toy drive we've had over the past eight years, but I'm always touched by the generosity of people who bring us new, unwrapped toys, whether it's one toy or several bags full. But I'm especially moved when children take the lead in the giving. One of the people I met on Saturday was 12-year-old Josh, who came with his mom to drop off some toys. In the course of our conversation, I asked if I could have a picture taken with them. Josh's mom decided to let Josh take it with me, and told me it was his idea to make a donation to the toy drive. On behalf of all of us at Majic, we salute you, Josh, and other kids like you, for being willing to help others who are in need. Check out our photo.
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A Fun Time At The Stadium

My 16-year-old son James and I went to the UT-Kansas game this past Saturday night, and wow, was it fun! We try to do at least one game a year, but haven't been the past two seasons, so he and I have been pumped for weeks about seeing all the rennovations that have allowed attendance to be over the 100,000 mark. We sat in the upper deck, and James was very happy with the view. Since I'm blind, it doesn't matter where I sit, but I always try to get the best seats possible for him. When it was announced that the stadium had set an all-time attendance record, James became excited. "We picked a good game to go to," he pointed out. "Not only is Colt McCoy going to break the record for most wins in the NCAA, but I was a part of setting the attendance record. Pretty cool." It certainly was. I remember reflecting how much I enjoy these father-son events, especially now, as he's almost grown. He must have been thinking the same thing. "We need to keep doing this, even after I'm grown," he said. "As long as my kids can come, too." "Why, of course they can," I replied. "I'm all for that." James was having the time of his life, jumping up and down, clapping, and cheering at the top of his lungs. He even talked a little trash. "You smell that, Dad?" he asked me at one point during the fourth quarter, when Texas had put the game well out of reach. Not knowing what he was driving at, I sniffed the chilly air. "No, I don't smell anything. What is it?" "It's the smell of burnin' Jayhawks," he replied, laughing.
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The Pirate, The Hippie, And Me

Stephen Michael Kerr poses with Lynette the pirate and Tammy the hippie in a Goodwill Costume Contest Last weekend, I made an appearance at the Goodwill store on Research Blvd. between Burnet and Metric. It's always fun to go there before Halloween, because they have such a wide variety of costumes to pick out. One of the things I get to take part in each year is a costume contest, and last weekend was a real hit. We gave Goodwill gift cards to two contestants, and they had nine minutes and fifty-five seconds to pick out their costume and come back to the contest. Everyone else throughout the store got to judge the best costume; one winner took first prize, the other second. They each received tickets to Zach Theatre, the annual Ghoulwill Ball, and Mansion of Terror, plus a T-shirt. Tammy decided to dress up as a hippie, and Lynette decked herself out as a pirate. The pirate took first prize. I posed for some photos with the contestants. Check out this one featuring them both in costume. happy Halloween!
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Back To School With Goodwill

I'm sure the kids won't like this, but it's that time again when we start getting ready for them to go back to school. The good news (for us parents anyway) is this weekend, you can shop tax-free and stock up on those much-needed school supplies. Sunday, Aug. 23 from 1 to 3 Pm, I invite you to join me at the Goodwill store, 1911 North Bell in Cedar Park. It's on the corner of North Bell and New Hope Dr. I've always been impressed with the wide selection of items Goodwill has for any occasion, and you can get everything from backpacks to computers, even vintage and boutique clothing. As always, we'll have lots of majic prizes for you to win if you stop by our booth. i always enjoy meeting our Majic listeners, so don't be shy. I'd love to see you there.
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