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Success Stories Celebrated at Legislative Breakfast

C. Odell Tyndell Legislative Breakfast speaker

Larry Herring shares his story at the C. Odell Tyndell Legislative Breakfast.

Aug. 30, 2017 — After losing his vision, Larry Herring didn’t think he needed any help... until he walked into a ditch. 

Eventually Herring, 64, learned how to become independent and get around without the help of his family, thanks to assistance from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Services for the Blind.

After achieving independence for himself, he became an instructor at one of the division’s mini-centers, helping others with vision loss learn how to live independently. 

Herring was one of the speakers at the 22nd C. Odell Tyndell Legislative Breakfast in June. The annual event, hosted by the National Rehabilitation Association’s North Carolina chapter, highlights the work of rehabilitation professionals in advancing the personal and economic independence of people with disabilities. The event also featured employers discussing why they value an inclusive workforce and how employees with disabilities have brought value to their business operations.

Among the 80 people attending the breakfast were 18 members of the N.C. General Assembly. The attendees heard testimonials from state residents such as Alan Chase and Dr. Vovanti Jones who overcame serious obstacles in pursuit of their career goals.

Growing up, Chase, 31, was told his dream of becoming a teacher was impossible due to his vision problems. With the help of assistive technology, Chase found success at the Governor Morehead School for the Blind as an undergraduate student and in graduate school at N.C. State University.

Today, Chase is a program facilitator for Durham County Schools who advocates on behalf of students with disabilities. He hopes to one day return to the Governor Morehead School as an instructor.

Jones, 29, was always determined to study medicine. A diagnosis of muscular dystrophy before medical school didn’t deter her, but instead led her to focus on the field of rehabilitation medicine.

As her disease progressed, she needed assistance with mobility and tools to help her live independently. To fulfill her ambitious career goals, Jones worked with a Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services counselor and purchased a scooter to improve her mobility at home and work. VR also helped Jones purchase a specialized van and modify her home to accommodate her new scooter.

Her experiences overcoming barriers to mobility and gaining employment helped her excel as a resident physician at a rehabilitation hospital.

“I knew I was going to medical school from when I was a small child doing experiments in my house,” Jones said. “So I couldn’t let something I was unsure about impede my course.”

DHHS Senior Director of Employment Services Claudia Horn said she relishes the chance to let legislators see firsthand how residents benefit from programs.

“We appreciate the opportunity to connect legislators with the citizens benefitting from state rehabilitation programs and demonstrate how investments in people with disabilities can bring great returns - for individual clients and their families, to the communities where these clients live and work, and for North Carolina’s economy,” she said.


Ryan Hill