Thank You Box appeal for Guide Dogs NSW/ACT raises $8,000

The Thank You Box appeal for Guide Dogs NSW/ACT which took place from September 2013 to September 2014 raised $8,000. A cheque was presented to representatives of Guide Dogs in November.

William O’Neil and O&M Instructor Rebecca Olsen from GD Newcastle Office represented Guide Dogs NSW/ACT. Will proved a most entertaining and inspirational guest at the luncheon. He has had vision issues since birth with a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa, which caused his eyesight to deteriorate. The disease affects his peripheral vision which has worsened over the years and he particularly suffered debilitating night vision.

School years and later work with vision impairment was a daily struggle for Will. Despite being legally blind with minimal vision, he worked in the fresh produce industry for a number of years and went on to successfully complete Diplomas in Community Services and Youth Work.

With Guide Dogs NSW/ACT assistance, Will initially trained to use a long cane and other mobility devices to find his way around. In 2006 he received his first guide dog, Gordie.

Now with his second guide dog Nash by his side, Will has maintained his independence with confidence. Not one to sit still, he gets involved in activities as a volunteer and contributes to several community organisations.

As a PR and motivational Speaker for Guide Dogs, Will and Nash regularly visit schools, clubs, seniors groups and other organisations to talk about his life and experience with vision impairment, living with a guide dog and raising awareness of the many different options available for people who have impaired vision live an active and independent life.

The Thank You Box project for 2015 is the Northern Territory Aboriginal Ministry Fund which was introduced by Mrs Kerry Thompson at the Spring Celebrations.