The American Foundation for the Blind 2014 Helen Keller Achievement Awards
I’ve been sitting on this exciting news for a while, but I didn’t want to announce it until the dust started settling. There are a lot of moving parts to an event of this caliber, you know.
I chuckle when I think back to a particular challenge on my season of “MasterChef”: it was when there were six of us left, and we were divided into two teams and commissioned to run the back of the house for dinner service at one of L.A.’S Michelin-rated restaurants, Hatfield’s. It was the boys versus the girls, and I was on the team with Becky and Monti. Becky was team captain over vision impaired me and hard-of-hearing Monti. In between footage of us scrambling in the hot commercial kitchen putting together branzini and venison chops, the camera splices to me in my confessional, laughing: “Poor Becky’s got Team Helen Keller on her hands” (or something to that effect).
When this episode aired, I got a handful of hater comments on Facebook and Twitter, people aghast at my blasphemy. “I’ve lost all respect for Christine. Helen Keller was a magnificent role model.” “How dare you, Christine! Helen Keller should be respected.”
I couldn’t believe people could take so much offense at my joke. That’s partly why I wrote this honest blog post when I’d won MC3, admitting my fear of falling off the virtual pedestal.
But time has passed, and I’ve learned that you can’t please everyone, and you just gotta keep your head up and dust the haters off your shoulder.
That’s why, today, I find it amusing that the American Foundation for the Blind is choosing to bestow on me the Helen Keller Achievement Award, a prestigious recognition created in 1994 to acknowledge extraordinary efforts and promote the achievements of individuals and organizations that have improved quality of life for all those living with vision loss. Past recipients of the personal achievement award have included Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles. I am humbled and honored to be included in the ranks of such giants in, not only the music and vision impaired communities, but American culture.
The awards ceremony will be on June 17th in New York City, and I’m excited to be an honoree and supporter of the AFB, who is an important blind advocacy group. Equally as exciting, Alex Trebek, host of my favorite TV game show, “Jeopardy!”, will be the master of ceremonies for the gala. I’ll have to persuade him to do a reality TV stars competition for charity.
Last but not least, a little part of me can’t help but gloat at those who couldn’t take my humor. Of course I deeply respect Helen Keller, but we have to learn to poke fun of ourselves and laugh at life sometimes. Remember that what you see on TV is just a fraction of reality, as noted by the funny parody I posted above.
What should I say in my acceptance speech? Help me, readers!