In January we announced the inaugural Holman Prize for Blind Ambition, an annual set of awards of up to $25,000 that finance and support blind people worldwide in pursuing their most ambitious projects. All applicants were met with a challenge in the first round: create a 90-second video to sum up a project of their choice and promote it through social media to garner widespread support.
Between January and March, we received more than 200 video pitches from 28 countries on six continents. Projects ranged in focus across travel, activism, scholarship, craft, sport and much more. Our candidates’ pitches were viewed more than 65,000 times on YouTube: that’s thousands of people watching videos that chip away at stereotypes of blindness and offer a multifaceted view into the wide ranging and one-of-a-kind ambitions of blind people worldwide.
Seeing the range, scope and heart of our applicants’ videos was a joy, and their ideas blew us away. Deciding on a list of semifinalists proved to be difficult for our team, but we narrowed it down to 51 projects of all kinds from around the world.
Here is the list of semifinalists for the 2017 Holman Prize. In June, their proposals will be reviewed by LightHouse’s prestigious Holman Committee — comprised of highly accomplished blind men and women from around the world.
Click on each name to watch their original pitch video (or peruse our YouTube playlist), share, and spread the word: This is what blind ambition looks like.
Iman (California) wants to make a “reality TV”-style documentary about the lives of blind people.
Saghatel (Armenia) wants to develop his conflict resolution program in the Middle East.
Dan B. (Colorado) wants to complete an endurance run along the Great Wall of China.
James (Tennessee) wants to provide white canes to blind people in developing countries.
Joshua B. (Louisiana) wants to bring Braille training to Kyrgyzstan.
John (Texas) wants to establish an art gallery for visually impaired artists.
Georgie (United Kindom) wants to paint the Seven Modern Wonders of the World.
Melanie (Australia) wants to learn to dogsled, ice-climb and ski across Alaska.
Jack & Dan (New Jersey) want to ride across America nonstop with four blind cyclists.
Peggy (New Mexico) wants to illuminate the lives of blind people in American history.
Arne (Denmark) wants to ski to the North Pole.
Christina (California) wants to make a musical theater pilgrimage around the world.
Angela Denise (California) wants to build community with her ukulele from Hawaii to Australia.
Brett (Manitoba, Canada) wants to expand his public good clothing brand, The Blind Kid.
Muttasim (Sudan) wants to return to his birthplace in Sudan to become a catalyst for change.
Ioana (Montreal, Canada) wants to transcribe, record and perform classical guitar globally.
Natalie (California) wants to produce a new R&B album called “Blindsided.”
Riikka (Finland) wants to launch a one-year training program for aspiring singers.
Nicole (California) wants to travel around America and gather stories.
Jennifer (California) wants to develop a tactile-audio graphic novel called “Beulah.”
Caroline (Malawi) wants to provide better accessibility for blind students in her country.
Yves (Switzerland) wants to improve access to zoology education – specifically, penguins.
Marty (New York) wants to produce a documentary about discrimination against people with disabilities in the military.
Mirjana (Sweden) wants to trek through the mountains with a film crew.
Abigail (New York) wants to produce a podcast about disability culture.
Antonio (Philippines) wants to train blind people to become radio operators.
Felipe (Brazil) wants to further his political career, eventually becoming Brazil’s first blind president.
Alex L. (Minnesota) wants to teach ballroom, latin and swing dance to blind people around the U.S.
Rachel (Colorado) wants to document her world travels in a video series called “The Unseen Traveler.”
Dan M. (Michigan) wants to skateboard around the world and connect with blindness organizations along the way.
Linn (Norway) wants to record her debut album with friends in the Nigerian Afrobeat scene.
Penny (England) wants to expand her video blog, “Baking Blind,” to include travel, promotion and guests.
Graham (California) wants to go on a solo singer-songwriter tour, performing across the U.S. and UK.
Laura (California) wants to publish a tactile children’s book called “The Adventures of Penny the Guide Dog.”
Nino & Marie (Michigan) want to ride tandem bikes from France to Romania.
Dan P. (Georgia) wants to build a car to go 225 miles per hour — becoming “the world’s fastest blind man.”
Boonsiri (Thailand) wants to establish the Mae Sot Blind Centre for Children in Thailand.
Den (California) wants to follow in James Holman’s footsteps and circumnavigate the globe.
Serena (California) wants to study the art of making and roasting coffee and open a blind-run coffee shop.
Jamie (Colorado) wants to lead blind students in designing and creating balloon payloads to launch into space.
Alex S. (United Kingdom) wants to assemble a blind crew for a transatlantic sailing trip.
Jana S. (Indiana) wants to produce audio portraits of the U.S. National Parks.
Kaiti (Ohio) wants to start her own music therapy practice.
Ojok (Uganda) wants to teach blind people to be keep bees and sell their honey as a source of income.
Chandni (London) wants to work with exercise instructors to make fitness classes accessible to the blind.
Gary (Canada) wants to finance a Eurotrip for the Canadian Blind Hockey team to drum up support for the sport.
Penn (Colorado) wants to establish a four-day adventure camp for blind youths.
Deon (California) wants to travel and photograph guide dogs and their human masters for a coffee table book.
Ahmet (California) wants to kayak across the Bosphorus Strait between Turkey and Asia.
Poonam (India) wants to solo travel the world on public transportation and see who she meets along the way.
Christopher V. (South Africa) wants to take an eight-month expedition through the Mediterranean.