Harry C. Cordellos To Address General Assembly

Harry C. Cordellos

Harry C. Cordellos, a native of San Francisco and a nationally known motivational speaker who is a visually handicapped world class athlete, will adress the 19th Annual Leadership 100 General Assembly on Friday, February 5, 2010. He will be presented with the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Award for Achievement. An American of Greek heritage, whose father was born in Zante on the Island of Zakinthos, he is a graduate of the City College of San Francisco with an A.A. Degree in Education, he holds a B.S. Degree in Recreation an M.S. Degree in Physical Education from California State University in Hayward, CA. He will be presented with the Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Award for Achievement.

Cordellos is the author of three books, Breaking Through, an autobiography published in 1981, a textbook entitled Aquatic Recreation for the Blind, published in the mid 80’s, and a biography entitled No Limits, which involved a co-author who interviewed people important in his life. He is is the recipient of the Tolland Foundation National Award given annually to one who has achieved in sports in spite of a disability or who has contributed to the field of sports for the disabled and the Healthy American Fitness Leader Award, given by the President's Council on Physical Fitness, and has been inducted into the Catalina Island Sports Hall of Fame. He also received the Award of Distinction, given by the American Water Ski Education Foundation. He has water skied annually as a guest at the Cypress Gardens Water Ski show in Florida since 1981. Cordellos also holds the National Marathon record for totally blind runners, (2:57:42) set in Boston, 1975, completed the Hawaiian Iron Man Triathlon in1981 and received the Award for Excellence, presented by the Dallas White Rock Marathon. He has run 154 marathons, including the Boston, Honolulu, & Long Beach marathons.  He carried the Olympic flame for the 1984 Summer Olympics and again for the 2002 Winter Olympics.   In 1971, he swam the Golden Gate Bridge crossing.  Participating for over three decades, he has rowed, ran and water skied with the San Francisco South End Runners.  

Totally without sight, Cordellos not only runs marathons and water skis, but snow skis, plays golf, is a hang glider, and crafts specialist and enjoys bowling, ping pong, golf, ice skating, as well as downhill skiing.  Being born blind with glaucoma Harry had eight surgeries before he was a year old.  At the time there were only about a dozen known infant cases of glaucoma in the Bay Area.  Harry had only about 10 percent vision in his right eye, and the ability to identify objects at a distance of about two feet with his left eye.   His vision was limited and prevented him from doing much with sports.  He graduated Junior High School attending special sight conservation classes in which all of the school work was produced in large print. He attended George Washington High School where his sight had improved a bit and his doctor suggested that he try regular classes.  While this was the first time in his life that he would learn how to get around on buses and streetcars, his sight failed again as high school neared completion and he became totally blind when he was about 19 years old. Six more operations could not help and he enrolled at the California Orientation Center for the blind in Oakland. He learned how to cross busy streets, communicate with others by Braille and typing, and operate power woodworking tools. In August of 1958 at a weekend social for the California Orientation for the Blind, he learned how to water-ski. As the first full-time blind enrollee at San Francisco College in the early 1960’s, Harry was a top-notch photography student.  Using the heat of the sun, he could estimate exposure time.  He would then pace off the distance to calculate focus, and tapping his cane to the center of the subject. To no one’s surprise he wound up taking the top photo in one class exercise.

While attending Junior High School, Cordellos learned to play the clarinet and the tenor saxophone.  After High School, he learned how to play his brother’s trombone and rebuilt his grandfather’s mandolin. He made his own water ski, as well as building his own guitar and took up piano at California State in Hayward, CA.
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