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Sneaky People

June 29, 2009
Dave Jaffe

I have conclusive evidence that there are many sneaky people in RESNA. Let me present my case.

My first awareness was during the planning for the recent RESNA conference in New Orleans. When these incidents happened, they seemed pretty innocous. Looking back, however, they were pretty suspicious.

First, Rory Cooper asked me how many RESNA Fellows would be inducted this year. This is a valid question to ask of the Chair of the Awards Committee, especially coming from someone who had nominated an Honorary Fellow this year. My reply a fingerspelling gesture for "O". I told him that there isn't a requirement to have any set number of Fellows per year. Last year there were four Fellows and this year there wasn't anyone approved for the award.

I also recall a similar question that someone asked on the escalator. Again, I thought nothing of it.

Kevin Caves made a point of getting a detailed listing of the awardees for the Awards Ceremony handout. He also wanted the exact order and times of award presentations. Perhaps a bit anal (his description), but still pretty harmless.

During the past year, I worked with Jerry Weisman and Nell Bailey to get some lapel pins made for the RESNA Fellows. It turned out that Nell found a place that made them very inexpensively. After the artwork design was approved, there were 100 made. Nell sent me a pin to examine and I brought it to the Board Meeting. I showed it to Jerry. He said, "How come you are the only person that has one? You're not even a Fellow!". I said that I was just checking it out for Nell and that I had never worn it. He was just giving me a hard time as always - or so I thought.

As you know, the Awards Committee solicits, considers, and qualifies all award nominations. The committee met briefly at the conference and innocently discussed a range of issues. Little did I know that the entire committee was involved in a diabolical plot.

Over the past several months, I had been hard at work with the awards slideshow and comments. It was time consuming informing everyone that they were getting an award, asking them if they were going to attend the ceremony, and obtaining good photos of each. I wanted to be complete and accurate in recognizing these worthy individuals. Finally Friday evening came around and I was introduced as host of the Awards Ceremony. Two large spotlights were trained on the podium area, making it difficult for me to see the audience. Everything was going fairly smoothly. I did screw up on the ordering of the folks that were ending their terms as PSG and SIG Chairs. I was upset at myself for the mixup. But the show must go on.

Then someone - I couldn't see who - handed me a note to read.

It said:

Tattoo-R-Us noted there was a group from RESNA there last night, and one person left an iPhone behind. Would the person who left it behind please pick it up from the RESNA registration desk.

I looked it over and instead of reading it verbatium, I didn"t mention the Tatoo store. I indvertantly messed up a good joke. If I had read it as written, Glenn Hedman was going to jump to his feet and run out of the room.

I continued with the ceremony and a few minutes later I got another note:

There is a 1982 AMC Pacer with its headlights on in the parking garage. If it's your car, please go turn off your lights.

After I read it, I heard some laughter, but I couldn't see if anyone from the audience responded. Again, I was just concerned with getting through the rest of the ceremony, so I didn't think about the meaning of these notes or even consider their "truthiness".

I was finally near the end of the ceremony - the only things left to do were to thank Kevin Caves, the Awards Committee, and Nell Bailey for their efforts when I got one more note handed to me which I read:

There has been a serious ommission in tonight's awards ceremony. The Awards Committee has nominated and the RESNA Board has approved a Fellow Award for ...

That was all that was on the note. I turned it over and it was blank. As I looked up, I saw the huge silhouette of a person coming up the aisle to the stage. As the black blob got closer, I could recognize Jerry Weisman.

The next thing I knew, I was hearing a litany of my professional life, seeing slides of some of the projects I had worked on, and listening to the words of my colleagues praising me.

I couldn't believe it, was this another joke, or was I really getting a Fellow Award? I paced the stage once in disbelief.

It was now my turn to speak, this time without the help of my index notecards.

The first thing I said was, "This is totally embarrassing for me". I didn't mean that the award is an embarrassing achievement, I meant that it has never been my goal or desire. I have always wanted to help RESNA and its members in whatever ways I could in a behind-the-scenes sort of way. I was happy to get a "thank you" email or a certificate of appreciation every once in a while for my work - and that is all I ever wanted or expected.

This was a complete surprise to me and I was totally clueless about this. But such are the methods of sneaky people.

The plaque reads for his continuing, consistent contributions to RESNA, his pioneering design and development of assistive technologies, and his pervasive nurturing of the field and his colleagues

There is no way I consider myself in the same league as the other Fellows, including the founders of RESNA or those who have made major accomplishments. I talked to Denis Anson about this, and he said he felt the same way.

And now I am thinking that the criteria for RESNA Fellows needs to be revised.

But, ok, with suitable pride, I humbly accept the award and will do my best to continue to be worthy of the honor.

So here is perhaps an incomplete list of sneaky RESNA people:

The entire Awards Committee: Al Cook, Brenda Sposato, Caren Sax, Anita Perr, and Heidi Koester

The entire Board of Directors: Jerry Weisman, Greg McGrew, Dianne Goodwin, Glenn Hedman, Mike Babinec, Kay Koch, Stephen Bauer, Stephen Sprigle, Liz Cole, Gary Downey, Alex Mihailidis, and Paul Schwartz

Others: Kevin Caves, Nell Bailey and the RESNA Office, Jamie Prioli, Sal Sheredos, and Mark Bresler. (There may be others.)

So, be wary of these individuals, they are not entirely what they seem, for they are indeed sneaky, but in this case, I thank them for it.

Dave Jaffe
RESNA Fellow