“Happy are those who dream dreams and are willing to pay the price to make those dreams come true.”
Brian Mackey must indeed be happy, for at the ripe old age of 31, he has already done whatever it took to make just a few of his dreams a reality.
His day job at a national hotel chain in Reading is just one example. “I had always wanted to get a job using my data entry and bookkeeping skills. After a lot of trying to do some job hunting through agencies, I finally got a data entry job ─ exactly what I wanted.”
Brian is also using those same attention to details skills as treasurer of the NFB of Pennsylvania affiliate. He has formerly served as secretary of the New Jersey at large Chapter and is also webmaster for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, South Dakota, Nevada, West Virginia and Connecticut.
In 2000, Brian was diagnosed as having Bardet Biedl Syndrome, a form of Retinitis Pigmentosa, commonly known as RP. But it wasn’t until 2008 that he learned he also has Asperger’s Syndrome. These diagnoses helped Brian and his family understand his challenges and quirks
“When I first learned about my eye condition it helped explain why I could not see a yellow Nerf football being thrown at me. My parents were working on my eye hand coordination at the time. So I was not mad about it. Over time I just learned how to use Braille and assistive technology.”
Despite these and other medical conditions, Brian’s persistent attitude has kept him going and to make other dreams come true.
He first learned about the NFB while living in New Jersey and became a member of the local chapter, Garden State, in 2002. It was there that he met his mentor, Joe Ruffalo who Brian credits for giving him a platform to share his many gifts and talents.
“Once Joe has you in his grasp, he pulls you into more substantial projects. This helped me become a true Federationist!”
After Brian completed training at the Louisiana Center for the Blind, Joe gradually gave him small assignments. Brian would later serve as the New Jersey affiliate’s Secretary, At-Large, treasurer and webmaster. Joe then began talking Brian up to other affiliates, leading to his current position as webmaster for several affiliates.
In addition to his role as treasurer for the Pennsylvania affiliate, he also holds that same position for the Greater Berks County chapter.
Not one to be all work and no play, Brian enjoys playing golf with the Middle Atlantic Blind Golfers Association; where he is a board member and is the association’s webmaster.
Now a Pennsylvania resident, Brian also likes to follow the Philadelphia Flyers, the Reading Royals, listening to Elvis, and working out at least three days a week with his personal trainer. An avid reader, his favorite genres include Harry Potter, Star Wars, and mysteries.
In recognition of his many years of service to the New Jersey affiliate, Brian was awarded the Raising Expectations Award during its 2018 state convention. This is the highest award given to a member of the state affiliate.
Finally, Brian is very involved with advocating for equal rights for the blind and disabled community. This year was his eighth year attending the NFB Washington Seminar where he served as a team leader.
In addition to completing blindness skills training at the Louisiana Center for the Blind, Brian also attended Burlington County College and Harris School of Business where he studied Computerized Accounting.
“As a Federationist I want others to learn to use their skills to the best of their ability regardless of their blindness, and to live the best life they can.”
Contact Brian at:
Written by Lisa Andrews