Helen Keller and AFB Honored in New National Monument in Washington, DC
Former President Bush Dedicates the "Extra Mile Points of Light Volunteer Pathway" to Highlight Role of Service Movement in American Life
October 11, 2005 (New York)—Helen Keller is among the Americans whose life's work will be immortalized in bronze and granite this week when a new national monument is unveiled in Washington, DC. The new "Extra Mile Points of Light Volunteer Pathway" tells the stories of great Americans who, through their caring and personal sacrifice, built their dreams into great movements that have created enduring change in America.
Helen Keller, who was the American Foundation for the Blind's (AFB) ambassador and champion for over 40 years, is one of only 20 honorees whose commemorative medallions will be unveiled on October 14. The ceremony, led by Former President George Bush, political commentator Cokie Roberts, and District of Columbia Mayor Anthony Williams, will recognize Helen Keller for her tireless advocacy to increase opportunities by challenging the popular perception of disability and bring about sweeping changes in legislation that benefited people who were blind or visually impaired.
"Helen Keller expanded possibilities for people with vision and hearing loss by challenging negative stereotypes that dictated how people with disabilities were treated by society," said Carl R. Augusto, President and CEO of American Foundation for the Blind. "Her passion for equality continues to guide AFB's work today."
The Extra Mile is an initiative of the Points of Light Foundation. The monument required both Congressional and District of Columbia approvals and is made possible thanks to major support by the KPMG Foundation.
The monument takes the form of a series of bronze markers laid into the sidewalks in an area just adjacent to the White House. The markers are circular, three and a half feet in diameter, and laid into a surrounding six foot square apron of granite. Each marker will bear the likeness of an honoree, a description of his or her achievement and a quote. Together, the markers form a one mile walking path through an area bounded by Pennsylvania Avenue, 15th Street, G Street, and 11th Street, NW.
Because the monument utilizes well trafficked sidewalks near the White House, it will attract substantial immediate attention. Based on current pedestrian traffic alone, the Extra Mile will have more than 1.7 million visitors per year.
"We are thrilled to see this monument become a reality and to recognize the contributions of such heroic Americans as Helen Keller," said Robert Goodwin, President and CEO of the Points of Light Foundation. "Her legacy epitomizes the spirit of service in America and provides an inspiring example of how we all have the ability to go the extra mile for our fellow citizens."
Other Extra Mile honorees include Martin Luther King, Jr., Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Clara Barton, Cesar Chavez and Frederick Douglass—as well as founders of organizations like Goodwill Industries, Volunteers of America and Rotary International. For more information on the monument, visit www.ExtraMile.us. For more background on the Points of Light Foundation, visit www.PointsofLight.org.
For more information contact:
Carrie Fernandez, AFB Communications
(212) 512-7674 or