By Denise Fleischer

Donald Hurst of Park Ridge set out to record a book he wrote about his World War II experiences for his wife and visually impaired friends.

“It Was Either Them or Us” was self-published in 2007 and focuses on an incredible responsibility Hurst had as a 15 year old after enlisting in the Army Air Corps. Hurst was a rear gunner who saved the survivors of their B-17 Bomber after it made a crash landing behind enemy lines.

“My wife is unable to read books because she’s blind so she’s been getting talking books from the government for years,” said Hurst, a Park Ridge resident since 1961. “She wanted to hear a recording of my book so I called Springfield and asked if anyone knew who recorded books.”

Hurst was referred to Horizons for the Blind in Crystal Lake. The not-for-profit organization is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people who are blind or visually impaired.

Hurst called Horizons and received a tour of the building and learned about the various services it provides.

According to Camille Caffarelli, founder and executive director of Horizons for the Blind, staff creates audio materials for people that are blind.

“Don called me a few months ago. He wanted to know if we could record his book so his wife can hear it. She’s visually impaired,” said Caffarelli. “I said it would be great to do it for others. Seniors remember WWII and they might find the book enjoyable. I gave it to Hap.”

Hap Holly, a long-time Des Plaines resident who is blind and a 13-year employee of Horizons, contacted Hurst.

“I told him that we could record it and that I had two people that could read it. I could send him a sample of each,” said Holly.

Hurst selected the reader that expressed the most emotion. It took a week for James Lackey of Crystal Lake, to read the book in a recording studio. From there, Holly and co-engineer, Chris Buchanan used a software program to record, edit and improve the quality of the recording. Rustling of the pages, clearing of the throat and mistakes were removed.

The readings were transferred onto a compact disc per Hurst’s request. Additional copies were created for his WWII friends who are losing their sight and would like to read his book.

According to Aaron Mason, Horizon’s marketing manager, they are considering an mp3 digital format as well.

(reprinted from the Journal & Topics Newspapers)