When I heard my talking computer bark out an email message from a public relations company about a Ford Mustang event, I figured it was spam. For some happy reason, though, I opened it anyway.
Since Roger Keeney, 62, of Athens, Ga., lost his sight, he’s dreamed of driving again. But being visually impaired meant that he never thought he would experience the handling of the vehicle as it takes a turn at 80 MPH or the smell of burning rubber as the engine roared. But Roger’s dream is about to come true. On May 7, Roger will live out his dream in a 2010 Ford Mustang as part of Ford’s “The ‘10 Unleashed” campaign, which is awarding 10 people an experience of a lifetime. Please join us to witness Roger’s experience and listen to him describe the drive in his own words. You will even have the opportunity to put yourself in his shoes and take the 2010 Mustang for a spin.
I called Mike over to take a look at my computer screen. He said the e-stationery and contact information looked legit. It came from Hill & Knowlton, a large and reputable agency. “The new 2010 Mustang is kind of a big deal, Beth!” he exclaimed. Mike was impressed. And a little bit jealous.
“You remember what the Mustang looked like back in the 60s?” Mike asked. If Mike had asked me what any other car in the 60s looked like, I would have been lost. But as fate would have it, my sister Cheryl bought a Mustang in 1967. My older brothers had brought cars home before, but never before had a female in our family gone out and purchased a *brand* *new* car. Not to mention something as racy as a Mustang. We were mesmerized by Cheryl’s sports car, and I still remember its lime green sheen.
A short two years later, Cheryl got married, sold the car, and my sports car enthusiast days were over. Flo was working full-time during my teen years and didn’t have much time – or energy – to teach me how to drive. My teenage friends trained me instead. I somehow managed to pass my driver’s test in 1975, God knows how. I was a bad driver when I could see. Things didn’t get better when I lost my sight.
I called the number listed on the email message and confessed all: I don’t know much about cars, and I have always thought that the driving scene in Scent of a Woman was ridiculous. Getting behind the wheel again is not on my “bucket list.” If anything, a prank like that would bring me, and those around me, closer to that proverbial kick.
No problem. They’d done a little research on me, they explained. They knew I was blind. They knew I write for magazines. And they knew I do commentaries for NPR. “We just want you to come out to Phoenix and enjoy the experience along with Roger,“ they said, apologizing for the late notice. “If you can get out here this week, we’ll be happy to make flight arrangements for you.”
Flight arrangements haven’t been set yet. Maybe I put them off with my last, less-than-enthusiastic, question. “I won’t have to drive to experience this with Roger, will I?” The answer was no. “But you’re certainly welcome to try if you’d like to!” Stay tuned.
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