Update From Heaven

Pictured: 2015 Donna Coffee Youth Scholarship recipient, Heaven Vallejos -- Photo courtesy of: Heaven Vallejos

Pictured: 2015 Donna Coffee Youth Scholarship recipient, Heaven Vallejos — Photo courtesy of: Heaven Vallejos


Hi, I’m back. Haha! 7th grade is crazy insane. Just kidding, it’s really fun. You never know what will happen in Drama, but that’s why I like it. We play different characters and do monologues and the teacher and class are always funny. Going to different classes has gotten easier since August and now it feels normal. I got an award for High Honor Roll for first semester which was a big accomplishment. I’m still running and my dad is going to guide me for a duathlon (running and cycling) next Sunday. It will be the first time for him. I’m being a tough coach. I won’t let him slack off! I’m liking duathlons better because I don’t have to swim. I like swimming for fun, but not so much for competition. I’m looking forward to spring break because we might go to New Mexico. We went there last year and it was great!

Until next time,


CTEBVI Conference


Pictured: (l-r) Bob Sweetman, Taylor Cox, Jamie Murdy at 2016 CTEBVI Conference

Pictured: (l-r) Bob Sweetman, Taylor Cox, Jamie Murdy at 2016 CTEBVI Conference


Hi! My CTEBVI presentation went good. Now I’ll explain it in detail, along with the other parts of the conference.


First, I got to L.A. I met with my teacher, Mrs. Jamie. I ate a lot of candy before my presentation because I was really nervous. We had about twenty minutes with the other presenter, Bob Sweetman, and we were ready.

I was so excited. I presented on the technology I use in my schoolday. I talked about the Computer with JAWS, my Open Book software and the Pearl Camera, which is basically an app on my computer and a camera that connects with a USB port and scans a print paper. I also talked about my BrailleNote,my iPad, and my phone. Sometimes my teacher chimed in, but it was mostly me. I was so happy and calm during the presentation and it felt so good doing it. I loved every second of it. At the end of the presentation, I got a lot of “good jobs” and “you did amazing.” I loved every single part of it. My teacher actually counted fifty people in the conference room!

After the hard part was done, I got to relax. I got to go to the guide dog booth and try a Juno lesson. That basically means that a guy was holding the other part of the harness while I held the handle. It was cool because I felt like I could walk without a cane like sighted people do. It made me feel more independent also because of the fact that I walked faster. Finally, it made me want a dog more. I also got to see the new BrailleNote Touch. It is a model of a tablet, but it has a cool keyboard built in to the case. But when you flip up the case,the keyboard is gone. THERE IS JUST A TOUCH SCREEN. I GOT TO TALK TO THE MAN WHO CREATED THE BrailleNote, Greg Stilton. He’s a genius! After that I went to another conference, then my mom and I left the scene of our crime.

This experience was amazing. I think, though, if more kids could present, it would be awesome. It would not only build their confidence, even if it is nervewracking. Just prepare, and you’ll be fine. This was a great experience, again, and more people should do it.

I hope I’ll get the chance to write again. Most likely, you’ll hear from me soon.

Until next time,


Exit Interview – Taylor Cox

As the year of Taylor Cox comes to an end, we thought we’d find out what her experience has been like and asked her to share her thoughts in this fun CTEBVI “exit interview”!

Pictured: Taylor Cox

Pictured: Taylor Cox

How did you feel when you won the scholarship?
I felt awesome! It felt so great knowing that I got a scholarship so young and I knew I wouldn’t waste it!

What did you use the scholarship money for this year?
I used the money for recording software and private jujitsu lessons.

What did you learn and why was it important to take these lessons?
I learned a lot of awesome techneques to make certain of the moves better. This was important because it made all the difference between what I knew I could do and what I chose to do. Also, it made me a lot more aggressive!

How do you feel now that your year as the DCYS recipient is over?
I feel sad that the year is over, and I can’t believe how fast the year went by!

What are three words you can use to describe this experience?
Awesome, thrilling, amazing!!

What was your highlight about this year?

I think the highlight of this year was writing The Story of my life because it felt good just to be writing again. I also thought Camp Bloomfield was awesome too.

What did you learn about yourself since receiving the scholarship?
I think I realized how much I like to write. Once I get gowing, it’s really hard to stop. I also learned how lucky I was. I know that other people tried and didn’t get it. I hope that they realize that they can do it again next year too and try their luck.

What advice would you give to future DCYS recipients?
Be yourself. No matter what, just go and write! Also, make sure you pace yourself so that you aren’t scrambling to keep up like I was!

What will you miss the most about the blog?
I think I will miss just writing my experiences. I will also miss looking back at all my other blogs. Finally, I think I’ll miss my name on the blog as 2015 recipient!

What do you want people to know about you?
I think I want people to know that I really did try for the scholarship. There was tough competition and I’m happy that I did this. Also, I want people to know that I keep going, even through hurdles and obstacles. I’m just like a normal teenage girl, except I’m sort of a geek.

Anything else you would like to share?
Good luck to the next recipiant!

You have so many fans who want to know how you’re doing and what you’re up to. We would love to contact you from time to time to update us and we’ll post it to our social media accounts. Is this ok?
Heck yeah!


Hi! On Friday we went to the festival. The Festival is a type of concert and we get judged. It is in the Garden Grove High School. Bands and orchestras play three pieces of music. I went with my school, Dwyer Middle School. I got to leave school early and got on the bus with my friend, Tim.

​When we got there, we watched two bands and then finally Dwyer performed. They did well. They got excellent, which is the third highest rank you could get. After that was lunch. I talked with my friend Kelly for a little and got ready. I met my friend Rene, who also plays the keys. We were the only piano players in the orchestra. After a short warmup, we went to play.

We did three short pieces. The first one we played was Spring, composed by Antonio Vivaldi. I think we all know that one. The next two were newer. They were called Dramatic Essay and Cello Squadron. Dramatic essay went from slow to very fast in a short transition. The third piece also changed tempo, and the first part reminded me of Star Wars. It had that same heroic feel. Other good news…. We have Cello Squadron on my mom’s phone so I’ll post that to the blog too! You’ll hear me too with the base. I explained the songs themselves a lot. Now I’ll explain the performance.

We did Spring first. I played right hand while Rene played the baseline. She did really well. Me, well, it took me a little bit of time to settle down. Then, after a long break, we played dramatic essay. I played left hand on that one. We rushed a little bit, but we did fine. Cello Squadron did good as well. It was a little harder song to play for me, but it went well. We did great. We ended up placing at Superior. The only thing we could’ve gotten better with was unanimous superior. It was a beautiful day and full of excitement. I loved bragging to my friend in band and telling him we got superior! It was also on the school announcements so everybody knew. It was one of the most fabulous Fridays ever!

What Is Jiujitsu

Pictured: (l-r) Bill (Taylor’s instructor), Taylor and Chad (Taylor’s other instructor) — Photo courtesy: Taylor Cox

Hi! I haven’t written about Jujitsu yet, so I’m going to give a brief overview.

For those who don’t know, Jujitsu is a martial art. The object is to make someone tap on you to signify that something hurts or that you’re getting choked. Another way to win is to win on points for doing certain moves. For example, for the mount, which is fancy for “someone sitting on top of you” you get four points. Almost all of the matches end up on the ground. You can take them down, which is kind of like tackling, or pull guard, which is just wrapping your legs around someone. There is no punching or kicking, thank god.

The sport works by a belt system. You start off with a white belt. Then, when you get four stripes which are made out of tape, by the way, you move to grey belt. Then, when you get four stripes on that, you become a yellow belt. Then, you get four stripes on that, then you’re an orange belt. Four more stripes and then you’re a green belt. When you turn sixteen, you get your blue belt. Same rules apply, only different colors. For adults, it’s blue, purple, brown, black, and legends get red belt. If you’re a new adult to this sport, you have to get a white belt before blue. It sounds confusing, but you get used to it. At least, I get used to it because I’ve been doing it for four years.

As most of you know, I’ve been taking privates with my instructor, Chad. I’ve only done about four, but I’ll be doing more. We have pictures, but we don’t have a lot of video. I’ll post it as soon as I can.
Another thing is that we had promotions on Friday, December 11. Its where kids or adults get more stripes or a new belt. I got another stripe on my yellow belt. Now the next step for me is orange belt! It was one of my best Christmas presents yet this year. Speaking of Christmas, I’m looking really forward to it this year. Hope to be writing again soon!


An Update from Heaven

Pictured: Heaven Vallejos as a "psycho medic"

Pictured: Heaven Vallejos as a “psycho medic” – Photo courtesy of: Heaven Vallejos


Hello everybody,

This last summer I went to summer camp in Napa. It was called Enchanted Hills Camp and it is for blind and visually impaired kids. I especially liked having time away from my brother. Ha-ha! We had fun having song wars at dinner time between us (The Shawnees) and the boys cabin (The Choctaw). They kept singing Happy Birthday and we sang the camp song. We had a talent show and my friend and I did a skit where I played an inanimate object and she played an annoying phone. One day we were doing a scavenger hunt and one of my counselors, who was the horse area leader and we, decided to bring in a horse. Everybody was told to be quiet, but they weren’t and I almost got dragged out the door by that horse. Luckily I let go!

School started. Sixth grade is both fun and torturous. We have to do block rotation so that we can get used to changing teachers for each subject just like in middle school. And for the third straight year I ran Cross Country, but this year I never fell once! Ha! Our 6th grade class went to camp for 3 days in Sonora, CA. We had a fake campfire since we couldn’t have a real fire because we are in a drought and fire is dangerous in the forest. We went to Mercer Caverns and everyone got a taste of what it is like to be blind when they turned off all the lights in the cavern!

Halloween is here and I was an insane, psycho medic. My costume was a lab coat with a bunch of fake blood on it. I used plastic body parts and duct taped them to my lab coat and I had a fake surgical knife and a bone saw.

That’s all for now.

Until next time,