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!

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21 Discussion to this post

  1. @JeffD503 says:

    I remember that episode and the comment. I didn't think anything of it. Besides, like Helen Keller, you and your team went on to victory. Worded right, that might have been a good comeback. But I digress.

    Congratulations on this award. I think you really deserve this. To me, you did way more than just win a cooking competition. You showed the whole world what can be done, no matter what. As for what you should say, I wouldn't have the slightest idea. Anything I could recommend would probably sound either overly-dramatic or overly-clichéd. But knowing what you're capable of on the page as well as in the kitchen, I think you'll do fine. Just don't do what I do when I have to speak and picture the audience in their underwear. XD

    Oh, and I agree with you on the humor. Yeah, sometimes you have to laugh at ourselves. A comedian I once heard proposed this formula. Comedy = tragedy + distance. People just can't pull themselves away and laugh at things anymore. No one can take a chill pill it seems.

    • Christine Ha says:

      I like that: “comedy = tragedy + distance.”

    • John Felts says:

      Christine,

      My wife and I absolutely LOVE you and your achievements ever since we were lucky enough to tune in to Master Chef. And, screw the people who can't take a joke! You meant what you said it in a very funny, harmless manner and it came out that way.

      Just for the record, I had my eye on you from the very first show on and was rooting for you ALL OF THE WAY! You are everything to be proud of in a fellow human being. Congratulations on winning the award and please keep up the work you are proving to be very successful in.

      You have our true support and admiration all of the way!

      John Felts.

  2. vivhdem says:

    Helen Keller had a great sense of humor and did not like pretense. As she would say: "Humility and resignation are virtues I don't particularly admire."

  3. KathWolf says:

    What incredible news!! Congratulations!! I watched every second of your MC season and never found anything you said or did offensive. You are so inspiring, you don’t let your situation hold you back, and you show others (with or without limitations) that they can be limitless too. You are so deserving of this award and I am so happy for you. Will wear my Team Christine shirt on the day of the ceremony!!

    • Christine Ha says:

      Aww, thank you! And that's awesome of you to wear the shirt on Jun. 17th. You'll have to take a selfie and post it on my FB page so I can repost. 🙂 Thanks for your support.

  4. Ken L says:

    I love everything about you! Your strength, your humor, your recipes, your sexiness, and your toughness! I like the fact that you’ll tell someone where to go in an instant! I am very happy for you for each and every achievement you acquire. You are an awesome lady and the non-haters think very highly of you ! Oh, here’s a joke to start your speech, ” Have you ever seen Helen Keller’s house? Neither has she/ I”

  5. Paul says:

    Congratulations, Christine! That is a great honor and you deserve it.

    Off-topic: since you posted that Mitchell & Webb video, I wanted to suggest that you might enjoy their other long-running work, "Peep Show." The name of the show refers to its POV format, and the two main characters constantly air their thoughts in voice-overs, so I think it would be a good show for visually-impaired viewers.

  6. Carmy says:

    That joke gave me a chuckle when the episode was aired. But congratulations with the award, you where definitely my favourite contestant and I hope you continue to do great things 🙂

  7. Cecelia says:

    Congratulations, Christine! What exciting news!
    Some people just can't take a joke. And some are going to hate everything, no matter what you do. The joke wasn't mean-spirited, but more of a humorous comment on the situation.
    I didn't know about the hearing problem, until your post.
    I, too, was rooting for you on Master Chef. Certainly an inspiration to me as I struggle with my own vision loss. Each time I try to dice an onion or egg, or try to pour something, I say, "Christine can do this, so can I!" LOL Only my efforts don't turn out as well as your's I am very interested in all your hints and tips. And watching how you do things.
    On my blog, I posted some links to information and groups, and need to update that. I haven't worked on it since 2010. Had computer problems, and health issues, and just felt like it was so hard to read anyway that I just wouldn't bother to get my computer fixed. Now it's fixed and I need to get back to it. I've had many people tell me they are going to find someone to help me with my computer. But, "m still waiting. I even looked at new computers, but they don't seem to suit my needs.
    I'm getting off topic, but I wondered how you are able to use the computer. Do you have a special program or a special computer? I know that there are programs that do various things.
    I do have some vision, but things I look at disappear, dance around, I see shapes in purple and green, little lights dance around, etc. I use Magnifier on my computer to enlarge some things. I also wear glasses that magnify 500%. and I hold a magnifying glass to magnify more.
    As long as print is in Bold and black and white, I can read it. But "pretty colors" , and normal print are unreadable for me..
    My daughter bought "Dragon" for me, but that is not what I need. It is supposed to type what you say. Instead, I need either a much larger monitor or something that makes letters darker and bolder, and, perhaps reds what is on the screen.
    Just wondered what you use.
    I know that the Awards Ceremony will be a great experience! Can't wait to hear all about it!

    • Christine Ha says:

      I use Apple products (Macbook and iPhone), which come with a built-in screen reader called VoiceOver. When I need to use a PC, I have JAWS (another screen reader). My vision is not good enough to get much use out of magnification, but Magic or ZoomText for the PC were what I'd used before my vision decreased to its current level. I had an Amigo portable CCTV that I used to use on virtually everything. Hope this helps.

  8. RKade says:

    We need more crippled comedians. You're spot-on about needing to learn to laugh at yourself as well as life's frivolities and who has more of them than the crippled? I mean sure the psychologically disturbed but they're kind of… out there for the average Chuckle-hut patron.

    As for what to say, I have no idea beyond "keep it simple and respectful" and "make it yours."

  9. DJIA Today says:

    oh my gosh, congratulation! My wife and I just binged watched the 3rd season of Masterchef (yes we are behind in Australia) and your performance was so inspirational. I also laughed at your joke about Helen Keller. Pretty amazing to win given Monti had a hard time hearing haha.

    Glad we found your blog and continue to follow your journey!

  10. I always wondered what happened behind cameras and how awkward it must be to act out something fake

  11. Roshaida says:

    Congratulations!!! An award truly well deserved.

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