By Danielle Zorn
Thursday, February 5, standing at center court in front of precisely 18,624 Celtics fans during half time, Yegue Badigue humbly received the Celtics Heroes Among Us award, highlighting his "inspiring journey and dedication to helping disabled people in need."
The Heroes Among Us award was established by the Celtics in 1997 to honor individuals in the Boston area who have made an overwhelming impact on the lives of others. Sponsored by the Mass State Lottery, over 380 people have been honored by the organization since the program's beginning.
Badigue, 28, born blind in the nation of Chad, is graduating from Gordon this May with an international affairs and music degree, and has much experience in being in the spotlight. However, the benefit, Badigue says, is not for him, but to shed light on organizations and establishments that have been influential in his life.
For example, Badigue spoke at a fundraiser for Perkins School for the Blind in May of 2008, raising money and awareness for the inspiring work those involved with Perkins have made not only in his life, but in many other disabled and non-sighted students.
It was Ellie Starr, the executive director of the Perkins Trust, on the other end of the phone when Badigue answered the afternoon of January 12th. "Would you accept the nomination for the Heroes Among Us award?" Starr asked. Badigue gave the green light, and it wasn't but two days later he received another call from Matt G. Meyersohn, community relations manager of the Boston Celtics, who shared with Badigue he was the recipient of this great honor.
After being picked up at Gordon by a limo, Badigue, along with three of his closest friends, including his fiancé, Jessica, arrived at the TD Banknorth Gardens. The Perkins School choir sang the National Anthem and after an exciting half ended with a Celtics basket, Bagidue was led to center court.
"It was most overwhelming," Badigue said with a grin. "I had to stand alone on the floor filled with energy after the Celtics had just scored." Being non-sighted, Badigue has an enhanced sense of hearing.
"Those who could stand were standing," Badigue said, "I could just tell from the sound coming from the ground all the way to the ceiling. It was like hearing the sound of rain from miles away up in the sky, until it comes down and hits you."
With his trophy in one hand and his walking cane in the other, Badigue felt the energy through the stadium, as he stood there for 12 joy-filled seconds, taking in the experience through his senses. Thanking all for this honor, Badigue knew he had impacted many people. "I felt those around me reaching out with their hands to say congratulations. It was overwhelming."
Badigue dreams of using his gifts and vocation to help raise awareness for the disabled and those who are left behind. "I can use my story of what I walked through to get here," Badigue said. "I have come so far and know it is my calling to continue to raise awareness and help those who have struggled like me." Badigue is concerned for the 70 percent of those disabled and left behind who are not able to work because they cannot see or do not have sufficient skills.
This awareness is already happening at Gordon even in small ways. Badigue remembers, during freshman orientation, that the group leader who took new students to Boston for the day assisted a blind man across the street, placing the man's hand on his forearm and asking him on the other side if this was where he wanted to be. Badigue asked his leader how he knew what to do. The leader responded, "Because of observing you showing those around campus how to lead the non-sighted." Badigue was greatly encouraged by this.
Next for Badigue is a visit to the State House in June with other recipients of the Heroes Among Us award. Celtics players, owners, and the governor with be again present the Heroes with their trophies; however, this time their names will be freshly engraved.
Looking forward to graduation in May, Badigue says he dreams of "bringing economic empowerment to those who are left behind." For the time being, he is already working to raise awareness of the plight of disabled children and doing his part by working with students at the Perkins School.