This year, we had 111 candidates from six continents for our third annual Holman Prize for Blind Ambition. We received ideas in 90-second pitch videos from advocates, artists, athletes, entrepreneurs, and more. It wasn’t easy, but we’ve narrowed it down to 41 semifinalists, including one People’s Choice Semifinalist.
We’re already proud of the impact our applicants have had on the world. Our 2019 candidates pitches have been viewed thousands of times on YouTube—that’s thousands of people whose expectations of blind ambition and ability have been challenged. This is an impactful feature of the Holman Prize, but the best is yet to come.
Below, we present the full list of 2019 Semifinalists. Each will send a detailed proposal and budget to be reviewed by the 2019 Holman Team in May. This year, we will select a People’s Choice Finalist from this group—that means the semifinalist with the most YouTube likes by May 10 will automatically become a Finalist. Help them out and like your favorite pitch videos! Final judging will take place in June, when the winners will be determined by an esteemed panel of blind judges who themselves are role models of blind ambition.
Click on each name to watch their original pitch video, share, and spread the word: This is what blind ambition really looks like.
Meet the 2019 Holman Prize Semifinalists:
who is passionate about inclusivity in the beauty industry, would use the Holman Prize to develop his accessible makeup brand Visionary Cosmetics, which uses braille labels and vivid color descriptions.
who’s been a performing magician for over twenty years, would use the Holman Prize to digitize notable magic books and make them accessible to blind people for the first time.
a disability rights advocate, would use the Holman Prize to pay for fifteen blind women to participate in the Miss Blind Diva Empowerment Fellowship Program that provides personal and professional development.
the People’s Choice Semifinalist, would use the Holman Prize to create a global consultation app for blind people to find information on learning, mobility, fitness and e-commerce.
who loves science and the outdoors, would use the Holman Prize to travel and teach blind people to identify birds by sound and explore other natural soundscapes.
a powerlifter, would use the Holman Prize to train and compete in powerlifting competitions with the hopes of qualifying for the 2020 Paralympics.
who works in social services, would use the Holman Prize to teach blind people how to build accessible, low-cost computers.
a newlywed who requested her wedding guests wear blindfolds during the vows, would use the Holman Prize to film the pilot for a sensory travel show, that explores destinations non-visually through the senses of sound, smell, touch and taste.
who loves hiking and surfing, would use the Holman Prize to build an online community to make astronomy more accessible to blind people, with the hopes of a blind person discovering an exoplanet.
Deniz, Yunus, Utku and Mina
who are from Turkey, would use the Holman Prize to take the Trans-Siberian Express from Moscow to Beijing and create a documentary about it to inspire blind children to travel independently.
who is an author and activist, would use the Holman Prize to travel and collect stories from people of color with albinism around the world, to share these stories in an anthology and documentary.
an athlete who hopes to qualify for the 2020 Paralympics, would use the Holman Prize to train and complete in the Coolangatta Gold race in Australia, which involves kayaking, swimming, running and paddling a surfboard.
who lives on a sailboat on the Boston Harbor with her guide dog, would use the Holman Prize to form an all-female crew of blind sailors to compete in the Marblehead to Halifax Race.
who’s an experienced winter mountaineer, would use the Holman Prize to lead an expedition on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic. If successful in ascending a peak that hasn’t been climbed, he would propose the peak be named “Blind Ambition”.
who loves hiking, camping, traveling and sailing, would use the Holman Prize to train and purchase assistive technology to sail a 7000-mile course from North America to New Zealand.
who’s a two-time world champion in para-surfing, would use the Holman Prize to run surfing workshops for blind children and youth all over the world.
who has worked as a teacher ranger with the National Park service, would use the Holman Prize to create a podcast to highlight the specific sounds from various national park locations to help blind people learn about the natural world in an accessible way.
who grew up in Iraq where she didn’t have access to books in an accessible format, would use the Holman Prize to set up a system to record audiobooks and distribute them online to blind students in Iraq.
a Brazilian jiu-jitsu enthusiast, would use the Holman Prize to travel and train with blind Brazilian jiu-jitsu experts worldwide, and then teach other blind people this accessible martial art.
a musician, would use the Holman Prize to develop Reference Point Navigation, which provides accessible indoor and outdoor access to information and navigation on mobile phones.
who runs a training program for blind people in The Gambia. would use the Holman Prize to provide eighty blind people with rehabilitation training.
who’s worked as a radio and television broadcaster in the United States and Mexico, would use the Holman Prize to travel to Cuba to teach a motivational workshop in English and Spanish to empower blind people.
a former music teacher who loves to cook, would use the Holman Prize to travel to Naples, Italy to train in the art of pizza making and open her own pizzeria back home.
who taught himself to program, along with other blind developers, would use the Holman Prize, to develop their prototype software Sable to allow blind people to create audio games without coding or scripting.
who is an athlete and martial arts enthusiast, would use the Holman Prize to train and seek setting the world record for distance traveled on a wave by a blind surfer.
who’s competed in dancing competitions and talent shows, would use the Holman Prize to open Blind Rhythm Dance Studio to teach dance to blind and low vision individuals.
who has recently discovered pole dance would use the Holman Prize to develop workshops, training and audio description to make pole dance accessible to blind people across the United States.
a human rights activist, would use the Holman Prize to create parent circles, so parents could discuss how to raise children with albinism and change the perception albinism in Malawi.
Marx Vergel Melencio
who plays acoustic and electric bass, would use the Holman Prize, to develop a device he created called VIsION, a wearable AI device for the blind, with the goal of mass production.
who is working on postdoctoral research in computational chemistry, would use the Holman Prize to film a documentary series called Planes, Trains and Canes, where she navigates and accesses the public transportation of five cities around the world.
Natalie Minnema and Sarina Cormier
who are from Canada, would use the Holman Prize to create an online platform that focuses on blindness awareness and accessibility training for employers and organizations.
who has a passion for electronics, building and repairing, would use the Holman Prize and his many skills to renovate his home.
who’s a writer, disability rights advocate and a marathon runner, would use the Holman Prize to form Project Runstoppable, a program that empowers blind children through a running curriculum.
is the North American representative for Blind Sailing International and would use the Holman Prize to form a crew of blind sailors to complete in the Race to Alaska, a 750-mile race from Port Townsend, Washington to Ketchikan, Alaska.
Brian Malvin Sithole
who co-founded Alive Albinism Initiative Trust, would use the Holman Prize to open a manufacturing plant in Zimbabwe that produces sunscreen for people with albinism.
a textile artist, would use the Holman Prize to bring together blind weavers and blind textile artists to create new art, develop online and traveling exhibitions, and strengthen confidence in art-making.
a motocross racer, along with his friend Pat, who is also blind, would use the Holman Prize to travel the country to motivate blind people to try different sports like snowboarding, jet skiing, sailing and more.
who has a bachelor’s degree in social work, would use Holman Prize to film a series of professionally audio-described self-defense videos that blind people could access online.
an extreme sports enthusiast, would use the Holman Prize to train and heli-snowboard off the mountains of Whistler, British Columbia, Canada.
who’s finishing up her degree in journalism, would use the Holman Prize to open a braille bookstore in Perth, for blind and Deafblind people to have easy access to hard copy braille books.
who’s worked with blind people on structured discovery in Qatar, the United States, and Australia would use the Holman Prize to hold residential workshops on structured discovery and echolocation orientation and mobility techniques.
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3 thoughts on “Announcing the 2019 Holman Prize Semifinalists”
I’m so amazed by your program. Do you have clients with lhon a genetic disease that attacks the optic nervous son had this and passed away 2 yrs ago
I wish I could have connected him with you
Do you have events my grandson could participate in thanks
First of all, I want to congratulate all of the semi final list soon. I want to thank The lighthouse for the blind for promoting these opportunities. I vote for semi finalist Trevor Attenberg because I also have a passion for the environment and love the outdoors. I think it would be a very cool and unique thing to teach blind people around the world how to identify different birds and other animals by sound. A world of inclusion is what we need and people should not be forced to waste their lives and be isolated from society just because they’re different.
Shon Mackey’s Blind Rhythm Dance classes have changed lives in such a great way! Go Shon. Thank you to all the semifinalists for getting out there!
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