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9/11 survivor to speak at chamber luncheon

Michael Hingson, who escaped the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11, will speak at the chamber's fall luncheon. (Contributed)

A blind man whose guide dog helped him escape New York City's World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001, will speak at this fall's Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Monday, Sept.11.

Michael Hingson, who has been interviewed by Larry King and written a best-selling book about his escape, was working on the 78th floor of Tower One when terrorists flew airplanes into the towers.

"When the airplane first struck the tower, I felt as much as heard a thud, just a big explosion, and then the building tilted," he told King during a 2002 interview on CNN.

He told his dog, Roselle, where to go, and she led him safely among crowds of people escaping the towers.

During the chamber event, he'll speak on "The Power of Trust and Teamwork: Lessons from 9/11," accompanied by his current guide dog, Africa.

"We're very excited," said Tara Bitzan, the chamber's executive director. "To capture him on the real anniversary of 9/11, a day that he's sought after, we're fortunate."

Hingson was going to be in town already to speak to a state meeting of emergency medical technicians at Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center, she said.

Each spring and fall, the chamber puts on a luncheon for the community and brings in a relevant speaker. This spring's speaker, for example, talked about doing more with less, a timely lesson as businesses deal with employee shortages, she said.

Besides telling the story of his escape, Hingson will deliver a message about trust and building relationships that can be useful on the job or at home, Bitzan said.

Typically, chamber luncheons draw 100 to 130, but she expects to double that for Hingson's speech.

His book, "THUNDER DOG: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero," was released in 2011. He will have copies to sell. Blind from birth, Hingson is an Eagle Scout and has a master's degree in physics. On 9/11, he was working for Quantum, a high-tech company that makes tape backup systems. He now travels the world speaking about the importance of teamwork and trust, and is a consultant on inclusive and diversity training and adaptive technology training.

This event is sponsored by the Douglas County Hospital, Alexandria Clinic, and Heartland Orthopedic Specialists.

It will run 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Broadway Ballroom in Alexandria. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $15 for Alexandria Chamber members.

9/11 exhibit at the fair

Next week's Douglas County Fair will include the 9/11 Never Forget traveling exhibit.

A 1,000-square-foot display will include steel beams from the World Trade Center towers, recordings of the emergency radio transmissions and documentary videos.

The exhibit will stay all four days of the fair starting on Thursday, Aug. 17, and is free for fairgoers.