Bell’s Family of Innovation, Right Here in D.C.

Lance Allred at the AG Bell Legacy of Innovation Gala, courtesy of Alexander Graham Bell Association.

The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing celebrated its 125th anniversary with a Legacy of Innovation Gala Sept. 29 at the National Geographic Society’s headquarters, where Gilbert Melville Grosvenor, Bell’s great-grandson and the society’s former editor, president and board chair, was feted with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Also honored — as champions of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Act of 2015 — were Representatives Lois Capps (D-California) and Brett Guthrie (R-Kentucky). Today, early detection can catch 96 percent of cases.
There was a feeling all around that this was a gathering of family and friends as well as an international affair — a quality of Washington, D.C.

The gala included an excerpt from the play “Bell” by newsman Jim Lehrer, starring local theater standout Rick Foucheux, who, as Bell, told the audience: “Everyone, turn on your phones!”

Master of ceremonies Lance Allred, the first legally deaf player in the NBA, said he was lucky to be alive, coming from a polygamist group in Montana, adding that AG Bell found him. Presenter Elena LaQuatra, who hears with a cochlear implant, is Miss Pennsylvania USA 2016.

Calling her brother Gil “the grandfather of Dora the Explorer,” gala co-chair Sara Grosvenor wondered aloud where he had not been. For his part, Gil quipped that Sara ruined his summer with her work on the gala. He added, “Alexander Graham Bell was the Steve Jobs of his day.” Edwin Grosvenor made sure everyone knew that Gil’s nickname is “Gippy” — and that geography literacy for all is Gil’s passion. Paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey, Gil’s friend for 54 years, revealed that his fellow explorer is a carpenter and a fine craftsman.

Oh, yes, one of the auction items was a trip to Nova Scotia.

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