Yesterday, I finally heard about the tragedy that struck at Northern Illinois university on Thursday. I felt a twinge of sadness as I listened to the news, as I remember well my visits there as a teen.
The North Central Association of Schools for the blind had its regional track meets at NIU each year. I don't know if it was because there was more room or what. I do know that it was an interesting time had by all, as we spent time with some of the college students. By the time I was going to the meets, the teams were not staying on campus in the sororities or fraternities. But, I remember some of the girls who had gone in past years talking about the experience of sleeping over there and spending time with the college girls. To me, that was a taste of the real world for them, which I think would have been good for some in my class to maybe think about continuing on in their studies.
I'm not sure whether it was Wisconsin that provided the guide wires for the blind students to run around the track there. But, I think it was. (Actually, we didn't run around the track with the wires. We ran the seventy-five yard dash, the 600 meeter and the 1200 meeter using those wires, and when we did run around the track, we ran with a partially sighted student leading us as we held on to their elbow.)
I remember thinking how secure I felt whenever we were on NIU's campus, and how insecure I felt in the hotel my second year on the track team. I remember meeting two students from the Philippines who toured us around the campus. I remember it being so cold that particular meet on Friday, we all would go to the bus to stay warm after we had run. In addition to running, I was our team's long jumper, and I did it barefoot. I remember that was the meet where I froze my toes off. I also did the three consecutive long jump and the hop step jump, (the latter of which I hated).
I remember thinking that a college anywhere was a great place to be, and I remember feeling sad as I listened yesterday, knowing that some students lives were snuffed out, before they could even continue. My prayers are with those families.