Guiding Eyes for the Blind, known around the globe as one of the foremost guide dog schools, has introduced a brand new way for supporters to make a contribution – through their phones. In honor of Blindness Awareness Month in October, the Westchester-based nonprofit is launching a mobile fundraising campaign. Anyone with a cell phone can participate by texting the word “GUIDE” to phone number 80888 to donate $10 to further Guiding Eyes’ programs and services.
“Blindness Awareness Month is an opportunity for the community to gain a better understanding of what life is like with a vision impairment,” said Sue Dishart, vice president of marketing and development at Guiding Eyes for the Blind. “Our clients have overcome innumerable obstacles to achieve amazing things. We applaud their courage and are asking those around us to get involved in changing more lives.”
According to a 2011 National Health Interview Survey conducted by the CDC, an estimated 21.2 million adult Americans reported either having trouble seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses, or that they are unable to see at all.
Progressive bilateral optic neuropathy caused Deni Elliott’s vision to begin to deteriorate in her early 30s. By 2000, Deni, director of the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at the University of South Florida, was legally blind. She received Guiding Eyes’ Alberta, a female yellow Labrador this past March.
“I came to Guiding Eyes expecting to receive the remarkable gift of a dog specially trained to compensate for my loss of vision,” she says. “What I left with, however, was a partner who makes me confident enough to explore the world regardless of where the roads might lead.”
The Yorktown Heights-based nonprofit provides guide dogs, professional training and follow-up support services to blind and visually impaired individuals around the world. Additionally, Guiding Eyes’ Heeling Autism Program places specially trained service dogs with children on the autism spectrum.
The recipients incur no costs. Guiding Eyes relies entirely on fundraising efforts, like its annual golf classic hosted by New York Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning, to fulfill its mission.
For more, visit guidingeyes.org or call (800) 942-0149. And for more on Eli Manning as a voice for the organization’s efforts, check out WAG’s November “Voices” issue, out Nov. 1.