At the awards luncheon at COVD’s annual meeting, I was the recipient of the Skeffington Award. I am so honored to receive this award for something I love to do–writing. And like most people who receive awards, I have many people to thank for getting me to that point, but three very special men stand above them all. Two of them are past recipients of the Skeffington Award–Drs. Irwin Suchoff and Harold Solan. But when I accepted my award, I decided to tell a story about the third man, my father, because it is a wonderful story that is particularly relevant to the Skeffington Award.
My father was a technical writer. He worked for a large electronics company where he wrote manuals, grant proposals and other technical documents. He loved reading, writing and learning new vocabulary. My dad was my first editor when I was growing up.
When my parents retired, they moved to a retirement community in West Palm Beach, Florida. It wasn’t too long after their arrival at Golden Lakes Village that my father became editor of the Condo News. He attended all the meetings of the Board of Directors and other committees in order to report and critique all their activities. At one such Board meeting, a contract was awarded to a roofing company to replace and repair the roofs on several buildings in the development. Since the contract was based on square footage, my father took it upon himself to measure the roofs, and he discovered a significant discrepancy. He then wrote an editorial in which he accused the entire Board of Directors of either being incredibly stupid or taking kickbacks (my father thrived on controversy). The Board of Directors was forced to renegotiate the contract but they were not too pleased with my father, even though he saved the condo several thousand dollars.
Soon after these events, the Board President paid him a visit, and told him that from now on, his editorials would need Board approval before being published. Although I do not know the exact words he chose, my father made it very clear that he would not be censored and he quit! That was the end of his tenure as the editor of the Condo News but it is not the end of this story. A few days later, my father sat down at his computer and began to write an alternate version of the Condo News, which he called Whisper. And so began his second career as an investigative reporter for Golden Lakes Village. He continued to attend all the important meetings and write about them. He published Whisper on a monthly basis until he died.
My dad is my hero. He taught me the power of written words. This is a lesson I embrace every time I sit down to write, whether it’s a patient report, a post for this blog, an editorial, or a journal article. With that power comes responsibility, especially when you consider that, unlike many spoken words, written words are forever. And those words can be shared with millions, with one click.
Everyone possesses this power, but just like our muscles, building that power needs practice, repetition, motivation and inspiration. Please, start building your writing power today. WE NEED MORE WORDS. We need people to write about the power of vision therapy, about changing lives, about different ideas and perspectives on how this all happens; about pushing the envelope and feeling the envelope push back. Over time, you may discover that you have super powers and you too will receive the Skeffington Award; but if that seems too big or lofty as a goal, then begin with a Whisper, because even a Whisper can change our world.
Read about the work of past winners of the Skeffington Award: