Helen Keller, symbol of humanitarianism

Although she faced a life complicated with being deaf and blind, Helen Keller devoted herself to helping others and various humanitarian efforts.

At 19 months, Helen fell ill to a high fever, now thought to have been scarlet fever or meningitis, causing her to be entirely deaf and blind. Despite this, she became a symbol around the world for going against the odds and she was continually ranked among the top of “most admired” lists.

This past week, Sept. 14, marked 50 years since Helen Keller received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Texas State University alumnus and former president, Lyndon B. Johnson. This medal is the highest civilian award and is given to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the interests of the United States, world peace or any public or private undertakings.

Helen was involved with many charities throughout the course of her life.  She was an advocate for worker suffrage and an adversary of child labor. Most notably, Helen is known for her dedication to improving the quality of life for those who are blind or deaf/blind.

Founded in 1915, the Helen Keller International (HKI) is a nonprofit organization devoted to preventing blindness and malnutrition. HKI is now actively involved in saving the lives and sight of underprivileged or disadvantaged individuals through programs with valid research in sight, health and nutrition. But Helen was involved with so much more, trying to help those affected by her same impairments leading to her being the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964.

Helen Keller died in 1968, but her legacy continues and her efforts are carried out through the lives of those she touched.

“The world is full of trouble, but as long as we have people undoing trouble, we have a pretty good world.”  – Helen Keller

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