Free Holiday Event Thursday, November 21
Please join us for a
Special Holiday Performance
The American Pacific Ballet Company
performing songs and pieces from Frozen!
November 21, 2019
Hosted at Blind Children's Learning Center
18542 Vanderlip Ave Ste B, Santa Ana, CA 92705
Your entire family is welcome to join us for this special evening which includes a full Thanksgiving dinner and dance performance.
Space is limited. Please RSVP by November 15, 2019
RSVP by replying to this email or texting Dalit Bruchstein at (714) 642-7057
with the size of your party.
YPO Members Face Fears for Children Who Are Blind and Visually Impaired
Left to Right: Dianne Markis (General Manager of Marriott Irvine Spectrum Hotel), Ivo Tjan (Chairman and CEO of CommerceWest Bank), Bob Olson (CEO of RD Olson Development and owner of the Marriott Irvine Spectrum Hotel), Scott Shainman (President of Getac).
On October 17, 2019, Young Presidents Organization California Coast (YPO) gathered more than 30 local Orange County executives at the Marriott Irvine Spectrum for a unique opportunity to face their fears, and it was all in support of Blind Children’s Learning Center. Keynote speaker Patrick Sweeney (The Fear Guru) inspired members to identify moments of fear and transform them into moments of opportunity.
Executives and their spouses then put concept into action by rappelling down the 17-story Marriott Irvine Spectrum. In partnership with Blind Children’s Learning Center, participants celebrated by personally donating over $10,000 to help children with visual impairments and their families in Orange County face their own fears.
Ivo Tjan, CEO of CommerceWest Bank, explained the collaboration: “As YPO members, it is our belief that the world needs better leaders and we strive to make meaningful impacts on lives, businesses, and the world. We had the opportunity to help make an impact by facing fear and rappelling for a good cause. We wanted to support Blind Children’s Learning Center because they help so many families face the fear of the unknown about their child’s visual impairments.”
"We pride the Marriott Irvine Spectrum hotel for being in the center of the action in Orange County, “ said hotel owner Bob Olson, Founder and CEO of R.D. Olson Development. “Bringing YPO and Blind Children's Learning Center together was an additional opportunity to be at the center of innovation, conquering fears, and making a positive difference in the community."
Thank you, YPO Members, for helping our students and families build brighter futures!
Celebrating Brave Steps of Independence
Another big "Thank YOU!" to the golfers, friends and sponsors for supporting students like Jasmin at the Dr. Frank Villalobos Fall Golf Classic on October 14.
The tournament raised more than $86,000 to provide Braille and low vision instruction, white cane mobility training, and individualized academic support to preschool through 12th grade students in Orange County.
More Support for our Students
Corporate volunteer teams really stepped up for BCLC students in October! Many thanks to these teams for making a difference to children who are blind and visually impaired:
In honor of Blindness Awareness Month in October, Mattel recently released Uno Braille. The new edition makes this popular card game more widely accessible for the more than 7 million blind and low-vision Americans in the U.S.
“We are proud to be making UNO more accessible and inclusive to even more families,” said Ray Adler, Global Head of Games at Mattel. The game is being sold at local Target stores.
Congrats to BCLC Alumnus and America's Got Talent Champion,
A group of Blind Children's Learning Center supporters gathered on September 19 to celebrate program highlights from the past year and meet new Executive Director, Angie Rowe. Hosted by CBRE Newport Beach, guests had time to mingle before hearing powerful parent testimony from Jackie and Zach Mullins on how services have helped change the course of their two-year-old daughter Zoe's life.
We're so thankful for all of our supporters! Together we truly make a difference to children who are blind and visually impaired in Orange County.
BCLC in the Community
Join us this weekend at the Festival of Children at the South Coast Plaza. The Festival of Children showcases more than 70 children’s charities that offer support, services and volunteer opportunities to the community. BCLC has been a proud participant in this month-long celebration since the beginning.
The BCLC booth will offer a textile matching activity to give children a chance to play a game relying on touch and sound instead of sight. Many thanks to the National Charity League - Monarch Beach volunteers for staffing the booth!
Days: Saturday and Sunday
Time: 11am to 2pm
BCLC Location: Booth 15 (located next to Banana Republic)
Free access to arts, cultural and,educational opportunities.
Schedule of Events
We hope all of you with young children can join us at Pretend City on October 15 from 11am - 2pm!
Golf, Shop, and Win at the Dr. Frank Villalobos Fall Golf Classic!
Dr. Frank Villalobos
Fall Golf Classic
Monday, October 14, 2019
Yorba Linda Country Club
12:00 pm - Golf Start
4:30 pm Social Hour, Speaker & Auction
2 Premier Tickets to the BNP Paribas Indian Wells Tennis Tournament Finals on Friday and Saturday
2-Night Stay at the Marriott Renaissance Esmeralda Resort
Thanks to our wonderful Golf sponsors!
Dr. Frank and Jeanette Villalobos
St. Andrews Sponsor
Pebble Beach Sponsor
Yorba Linda Country Club Sponsor
Legacy of Independence Society
There are now more ways to create a lasting legacy during your lifetime.
Stable, long-term support helps children like Jack (pictured) gain self-sufficiency from birth to age 22.
BNP Tennis Tournament
Did you miss our on our first live auction package? Check our desert retreat to the Scottsdale Fairmont Princess Hotel and championship golf course!
Four Opportunities to Win Big!
50" Samsung 4K HDTV
Apple iPad 32GB Wi-Fi
$500 Adidas or Amazon Gift Card
What You Support
You'll be helping students like Sophia.
BCLC helped Sophia regain hope, laughter and important skills such as Braille and white-cane mobility training after her battle with aggressive pediatric brain cancer.
Sophia is starting a whole new year of learning - will you help her meet her goals?
Thanks to Our Wonderful Sponsors
Pebble Beach Sponsor — $2,500
The tournament will take place on the brand new greens of Yorba Linda Country Club and will feature 18 holes of scramble golf, refreshments, auction and more! We thank you for supporting our kids, and to show you our appreciation we've lowered our registration fee!
Last year, golfers and guests like you helped kindergarten student, Eric. Eric has health issues and a severe visual impairment. Thanks to you, he has successfully learned to Braille and read the alphabet!
How will you empower Eric and many more students?
Revealing Our First Auction Package: Golf Retreat to Scottsdale Desert Oasis!
Presenting Sponsor- $7,500
Dr. Frank and Jeanette Villalobos
St. Andrew Sponsor- $5,000
Pebble Beach Sponsors- $2,500
Yorba Linda Country Club Sponsors- $1,500
The Konopisos Family
-Suzanne, Sophia's Mom
Now 8 years old, the determined and expressive Sophia just graduated from the Center. Suzanne describes her daughter’s progress as “mind-blowing.” She continues, “Without the generosity of donors, Sophia would not have had the opportunity to achieve goals that medical professionals said she may never accomplish. I’m forever grateful.”
- Speech therapy empowered Sophia with new skills to greet people, express her opinions, and vocalize simple words. Her constant cries of frustration are now laughter.
- Physical Therapy helped Sophia gain balance, strength and the ability to walk! Once unable to crawl, she can now explore a jungle gym, dance to music, and use a white mobility cane.
- Specialized, multi-sensory instruction improved Sophia’s tactile and auditory skills to learn without sight. She can choose activities, distinguish patterns by touch, and Braille the alphabet!
Sophia never gave up. There are hundreds of families right now who can fight for a better future like Sophia, but they need your help. Your gift will make an immediate difference at critical moments in a young child’s life, with a payoff that lasts a lifetime.
It is truly an honor and privilege to have been selected to serve as the President & Executive Director of the Blind Children's Learning Center. I look forward to leading the organization into its next phase of strategic growth and increasing BCLC's longstanding impact in our community.
Prior to joining BCLC, I was the Interim Executive Director at Global Genes, a rare disease patient advocacy organization where I oversaw significant organizational growth and the transition of executive leadership. Managing rapid growth in a global non-profit in the health care and technology sector has prepared me for my new role here at BCLC. These experiences will translate well to the community we serve and the staff that provides these services.
During my first few weeks at BCLC, I have had the opportunity to attend graduation, conduct an in depth planning session with the leadership team, engage with our very dedicated board members, meet some of our amazing families and students, and get to know several of our long-time supporters. Through these interactions, I am being informed about the rich history BCLC has had in our community and how we are going to be able to continue to support families with children who are visually impaired as the landscape of our community's needs and health care evolves.
Without the tireless support of our donors, board, volunteers and amazing staff since our founding 57 years ago, BCLC would not have been able to sustain the essential services we provide the community. I am grateful for that support and look forward to building-alongside you-this amazing organization to a "best in class" service provider for children with visual impairments in Orange County.
I am looking forward to a wonderful journey, growing and expanding our programs, funding, reach, and services to our children and families. Together we will continue to prepare children with visual impairments for a life of independence through early intervention, education and family support, with greater impact.
Blind Children's Learning Center
With the need for early intervention services growing, identical toddler twins Analyse and Luciana give not one, but two faces to a program that is delivering big results for babies and families.
Born premature, the girls spent their first two weeks in the hospital. Modern medicine helps more babies survive a premature birth, but there is a higher risk of health complications, including vision loss and developmental delays. Their father, Fernando, recalls, “Once we arrived home, we noticed the twins’ eyes never stopped moving. They could not hold our gaze.”
Their pediatrician was concerned that the girls might be blind. Further testing revealed that hydrocephalus was putting pressure on the optic nerve, inhibiting vision. After successful surgery, vision improved to an extent, but the girls needed ongoing support to address the remaining visual impairment and overall developmental delays.
One year into the program, BCLC’s knowledgeable therapists and specialists have helped the girls make significant gains. “I can tell their vision has really improved,” shares Fernando. “Now when I blow the girls a kiss good night, they blow kisses back.”
Blind Children’s Learning Center: How did this collaboration begin?
Dr. Catherine Heyman: It began with Elizabeth Caloroso, OD in the early 1990s. She believed children with visual impairments were written off far too often, but that eye examinations and intervention could improve visual processing and efficiency skills.
BCLC: How do children benefit from the Low Vision Clinic ?
CH: Our goal is for children to have as much functional vision as possible, but we can’t achieve that without early intervention. We saw a baby years ago who was initially diagnosed as completely blind, but our exam detected some visual function. With the proper support, he is now a high school student capable of visually processing his environment.
BCLC: How is the Low Vision Clinic utilized as a training facility?
CH: Residents extend their training by one year to specialize in treating children. Residents specifically seek out the Low Vision Clinic at BCLC since experience with this unique population is difficult to find.
BCLC: Have visual impairments changed in the last 25 years?
CH: Yes. Medicine makes it possible to save more premature babies, but they have more complex needs, including vision. Twenty-five years ago, detached retinas were a leading cause of blindness in babies. Improved treatment has
changed that. We are now more likely to see diagnoses like Cortical Visual Impairment, which involves damaged pathways between the eye and the brain. In this case, the visual impairment is not caused by the eye itself, but rather how the brain and eyes communicate.
BCLC: How has the clinic’s purpose evolved?
CH: There is more collaboration. In the Low Vision Clinic, we are the first ones looking at the rehabilitative aspect of a child’s visual impairment. Then, a team of experts work directly with the child to provide direct services and implement recommendations.
"We learned from Taylor that the road less traveled is lined with extraordinary people who can ease your load and help shine a light on the path ahead. These guardian angels include the amazing team at Blind Children's Learning Center,"writes her mother Heather on her walk page.
We're so grateful for the love and energy this team has poured into the Walk over the years in honor of Taylor. You can shine a light for children who are blind and visually impaired by walking on May 4.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.