October 28, 2010


By: Summer Beasley-Hoffman, WBRC Mobility Instructor

Summer Beasley-Hoffman and Walter Sullens smile at the camera during the 2010 WBRC White Cane Walk.

A stream of over 70 people wearing white and red shirts flowed through the streets of downtown Palo Alto, CA the morning of October 15th, 2010. They walked using long white or yellow canes, guide dogs, wheelchairs, human guides, and GPS devices. The group of marchers organized by the Western Blind Rehabilitation Center consisted of WBRC veterans and staff as well as representatives from organizations such as the Palo Alto Host Lions Club, Bookshare, and the Sendero Group.

The Grand Marshall was Mr. Walter Sullens, WBRC Alum and organizer of the Tustin White Cane Society. Mr. Sullens lead the group, chanting marching cadences into a megaphone, and keeping the group in time. Heads of bystanders on the street, in restaurants and stores turned to watch. Traffic stopped as the walkers marched in force across the intersections. Pamphlets outlining the law were presented to pedestrians and stopped drivers as the group marched by. The message was clear; ‘stop for long canes and guide dogs, it’s the law’.

On October 6, 1964, a joint resolution of the Congress was signed into law authorizing the President of the United States to proclaim October 15 of each year as "White Cane Safety Day". Within hours of the passage, then-President Lyndon B. Johnson publicly recognized the importance of the white cane as a symbol of independence for individuals who are blind. Today there is a variant of the White Cane Law on the statute books of every state in the nation and White Cane Safety Day is nationally recognized with marches and celebrations.

Once the walk concluded, marchers assembled in front of Palo Altos’ City Hall. The Grand Marshal, Walter Sullens, spoke to the group and encouraged independence, empowerment, and pride. Sid Espinosa, the Vice Mayor of Palo Alto, spoke to the group and expressed support for the cause, accessibility, and community awareness. Smiles abounded and canes were displayed as a group photograph was taken to document the event. The group disbanded, hopeful that the message was received and the community was more aware.

October 12, 2010


Image of Walt Sullens training a Tustin White Cane
Marching Society and Precision Drill Team member.
Photo Courtesy of the Orange County Register Newspaper

The WBRC White Cane March is coming up quickly on Friday October 15th in Palo Alto, CA.

WBRC is honored to have Mr. Walter Sullens, WBRC Alumnus and White Cane Rights Advocate, as the WBRC White Cane March Grand Marshal. Mr. Sullens created the Tustin White Cane Marching Society and Precision Drill Team which marched in the 2010 Rose Parade. He has been a wonderful advocate to educate the public on the significance of the white cane through this group.

All are welcome to participate -- white cane users, sighted guides, scooter users, dog guide users, blindfolded sighted participants (with cane skills or a human guide) -- on a half mile walk around downtown Palo Alto, CA.

Participants will meet in front of Palo Alto's City Hall at 9:30 am and the march will begin at 10 am.

Contact Brian Higgins at 650-906-9412 for more information.

Click HERE to learn more about the WHITE CANE LAW

Click HERE to learn more about the WHITE CANE SOCIETY

October 6, 2010


Photo: Senior Airman Michael Malarsie proposing to girlfriend Jesse Lengstorf
upon his arrival home at the airport after WBRC graduation.
Photo courtesy of the Valencia County News-Bulletin

WBRC alumnus Michael Malarsie was profiled in the Valencia County News-Bulletin in May of 2010. The story profiled his arrival home after rehabilitation at the WBRC.

"At 3 p.m., a plane from Los Angeles touched down, bringing Senior Airman Michael Malarsie home to a heroes welcome after months of rehabilitation in Palo Alto, California...

As Michael Malarsie came through the departure gates, flanked by his parents, applause burst from the two-dozen people forming a flag-lined corridor of welcome. A bagpiper struck up "God Bless America" and the tears flowed.

Malarsie knelt first to embrace his numerous nieces and nephews, who were obviously thrilled to see Uncle Michael.

Then he hugged a new special someone in his life, girlfriend Jesse Lengstorf. Malarsie knelt a second time and reached inside his blue dress jacket, producing a diamond ring. To more cheering and applause, Lengstorf accepted his proposal.
"We had talked about it, but I told him nothing public," Lengstorf laughed, wiping away tears from her smile.

Lengstorf met Malarsie while he was in the rehab center. "I am so glad he's home, but I know that can't compare to what his family has been feeling the past months," she said. "I am so happy. We can move on and start a life. Maybe even go on a real date."...

"This is great," Malarsie said of his homecoming. "I have never been more excited about anything in my life." "

Michael has called to let us know that Jesse and he were married and honeymooned this summer. All the staff of WBRC wish to extend a heartfelt congratulations to Michael and Jesse on their marriage.

For a LINK to the full length News-Bulletin Article CLICK HERE

October 1, 2010


Image of the Trekker Breeze GPS Device Courtesy of Humanware

Humanware has announced free upgraded software available for download to Trekker Breeze users. Veterans that have completed the WBRC GPS Mobility program and have been issued a Trekker Breeze should be aware of the new changes to the software which will expand the functionality of the device and consider using the free upgrade.

The upgrade includes a "What's Around" extended search feature which will allow users to select one of the ten following category groups. The search will announce the 50 closest POIs/landmarks within a distance of 5 miles:
- Landmarks (Personal)
- Transportation
- Food
- Banking
- Health
- Shopping
- Lodging
- Education
- Automotive
- All categories

Users will then be able to select a Point of Interest or landmark from the list presented in the “What’s around” search and the Breeze will provide turn instructions to that destination once users press the “Confirm” key. Other upgrades include enhanced voice, advanced street position accuracy, and more information provided when traveling in a vehicle.

Veterans interested in learning more about the WBRC GPS Mobility program should contact their VIST Coordinator for more information.

PRESS HERE to learn more about the BREEZE upgrades