2017 Eagle Award

  • Awarded
  • September 23, 2017

I m sure that this award recipient didn’t set out to win an award by playing the hand life dealt him. This person became acquainted with adversity at an early age, but he hasn’t let that keep him down. An attitude of perseverance, no matter what the challenge, has been one of the guiding principles of his life.

One of his sayings, and he has many, is that you can learn to fly like an eagle by flying with the eagles, or you can stay on the ground and peck with the chickens.

This person spent nine years of his childhood on crutches. One day he was in the high school cafeteria, carrying his tray while on crutches. An injured football player was also on crutches. Other people were carrying the football player’s cafeteria tray and his books, thinking they were being helpful. After they saw this award recipient carrying his own tray while on crutches, they stopped helping the football player, and soon he was carrying his own. This is an example of the way this person has lived his whole life.

This person became blind later on in life, in 1979. When he first heard about the National Federation of the Blind, he said, Why would I want to go there? There s just a bunch of blind people there. It took him about four years to be convinced to attend an NFB national convention, but once he did, in 1983, he has never looked back. He hasn’t missed one since, attending on his own dime. He goes there to recharge, to learn from others, and to teach others what he has learned about coping with blindness and life, no matter what curve balls are thrown your way. It s like going back to a deep well for a cold, refreshing, energizing drink of water.

If the car needed fixing, he fixed it. If the ceiling needed painting, he painted it, although he learned once to keep his mouth shut while doing so. If he needed a plug-in or a light switch in a handier place, he wired it. If something needed to be built or customized, he built it, even using power tools which, more than once, gave several of his friends and acquaintances pause. If something needed to be done, he did it, even in the dark.

Although this person could tell you many stories about his life experiences as a farmer, a grocery store owner, an accountant, a husband and a father of nine children, both before and after becoming blind, I think that almost everyone in this room who knows him could also tell you a good story about him. One of my personal favorite stories involved replacing a leaky faucet in my kitchen. A neighbor drove me to the store to purchase one, but he let me know in no uncertain terms that he was not handy and was not going to install it for me. I told him that if someone showed me how, I could probably do it. You can t do that, you re blind, he said. So I called this blind friend of mine, who came over and installed it for me. No big deal. It s the ordinary things in life that he does so well. The things that others might think are extraordinary, especially for a blind person. His mission in life, if he has one, is to let others know that blindness is not what holds you back from living the life you want to live.

So, for living an ordinary life in an extraordinary way, supported by his faith in God, his family, and his friends, I would like to present the first NFB of Montana Eagle Award to our good friend and fellow NFB of Montana member, Ted Robbins.