From Our Students
Mary is a 6th grade honor student at a middle school in the southeastern United States. As in elementary school, Mary is the only blind student at her school. She is mainstreamed right alongside her peers at school. She plays the violin and the piano, but her first love is singing. Mary has sung in various retirement homes in her community, and hopes to do more singing in the future. She recently got to meet her favorite jazz singer who is also totally blind! A little known fact of Mary is that she has a wonderful voice talent for radio drama. To hear a sample clip of Mary’s imitations (hold on, you won’t believe it!), go to www.juanamikels.com, click on “Mary’s Story,” and then click the light blue button that says “You gotta hear this.” Mary loves all people, and especially her new friends at MIRA!
For years, the idea of getting a guide dog was a distant, untouchable dream, something that seemed impossible. I’d imagine myself walking on sidewalks, hiking trails, school hallways, side by side with a dog companion, but the closest I’ve ever gotten to that was stumbling over roots, smacking into poles, running into other people as I attempt to walk my ten year old beagle Steve. (Steve is a horrible guide.)
When my mobility instructor told me about Bob Bailey, MIRA, the possibility of me getting a guide dog, this summer, I didn’t think much of it. I loved the idea, but it seemed too good to be true. It was only when I met Bob, Eric, Beth, everyone, that my dream began to morph into reality. When I first met Devin, I looked at him and told myself, “That’s what I want, that’s what I’ve been dreaming of.” Although Devin wasn’t the first guide dog I’ve ever met, he was the first that seemed real.
Now that I know that I’m getting a dog, my life has completely changed, I have a new perspective on everything. High school doesn’t seem scary anymore; I know I won’t be viewed as a freak. When people see the cane, their first thought is, “What’s wrong with her?” But when they see a dog, they think, “OOOOOOW, dog!”
I’m beyond excited to go to Canada this summer, it’s gonna be amazing, absolutely amazing! I don’t think I can wait to July. This is a huge step towards independence. Sure, I know I’ll still be nervous when I’m wandering in unfamiliar territories, but it sure will be reassuring to know that I’m not entirely alone.
Being a teenager is no easy task. You always want to be accepted, be liked, to be viewed as an equal. Normal teenagers feel that, so to be a blind teenager… well let’s just say it’s no picnic in the park. But with a guide dog, things might change. I don’t want people to just be my friend because I have a dog, but it will help kids approach me better. For some reason, my blindness intimidates them.
I’ve always loved dogs. I currently have two; Tim, who is a pug doxsen mix, and Steve who is a beagle. I love them more than anything, and I think they’ll love my guide dog just as much as I will.
Usually, the idea of going to a different country for a whole month, would probably cause some anxiety for me. The food, my surroundings, my home, the people, and even the language will be different. But I’m not even the slightest bit worried. It’s like I’m finally going to start my life, to venture beyond my homes walls.
My name is Michael Moore. I am 17 years old and in the 11th grade. I was attending public school up until 7th grade when my Mom and I decided it would be to my benefit to go to Governor Morehead School for the Blind so I could get the O&M and technology training that I just wasn’t getting in my school. I have always had a passion for music and play just about any instrument I choose. I grew up riding horses and did so until we moved to the “city”. Horses really don’t have a place on hole #2 in Kings Grant, although, I don’t see a problem with it. Some people think I’m a computer geek because there isn’t too much I can’t figure out on just about anything technological. It drives my mother crazy because I have an “ear” for Jaws and to her it sounds like a foreign language, especially since I can understand it at super speed. Again, I don’t see anything wrong with that. I have ALWAYS wanted a guide dog for as long as I can remember. This year I was accepted to receive one from the MIRA foundation. I will be going to Canada for a month and when I return, I suspect my entire world will be different. In a good way of course. I graduate next year and plan to go to college. I was anxious about leaving my friends but now I’m excited about seeing whats out there because I won’t be alone. I’ll have my dog. This is my bio. Michael Anthony Moore
Dear Mira Foundation,
My feelings toward being selected for a guide dog are: I am very lucky to be selected for a guide dog! I am also very excited and I know it will be a lot of responsibility, I will be the only one that can feed, water and take care of my guide dog. I also know that it will be hard work in Canada to learn the commands and bonding with my guide dog will be an adventure. However I am looking forward to the challenges that are coming in July.
Samantha C. Duerring
P.S. THANK YOU VERY MUCH MIRA FOUNDATION!!!!
P.S.S. DAD typed this for me
Next year I will be a freshman at Aiken High School in Aiken, SC. I am 14 years old and am a big sports fan. My favorite sports are hockey, football and baseball. Swimming and riding my bike are my favorite ways to get exercise. I like hanging out with my friends and playing with my dog Beau. I have played the cello for 3 years in the Strings Program at my school. At church this year I began serving as an acolyte, which gets me involved in the church service. I enjoy geography and reading Braille and tactile maps. I have been on the A/B Honor Roll every grading period that I have been in school. I have also won the South Carolina Braille Challenge, a Braille reading competition, for my age group for the past two years.
I am looking forward to getting a guidedog because I will be able to get around quicker and easier without running into things. I aslo love dogs and am looking forward to having a new companion. Having a guidedog will allow me to move around more independently. Mr. Baillie also told me I would pick up more chicks too!
Being in Canada will be fun. I am looking forward to being in cooler weather. Being in a big city will be cool too. I am a big hockey fan and I am really interested in getting a hockey jersey and checking out the Bell Centre where the Canadiens play. While I’m in Canada with my mom this summer I will miss my dad, sister and brother, but they are going to come up for the last week of training so I will only be away from them for 3 weeks. I am also looking forward to bringing my new dog home to show my friends and my other dog Beau.
Ryan Uhle, of Aiken, SC, received his MIRA guide dog last July. This video was created by Ryan’s friend Brian Katonak, and was first shown at Aiken’s first Dining in the Dark fundraising dinner for MIRA – 5/19/2012 click here to view video
Having a guide dog gives me more independence than using a cane. At first I wasn’t sure how different things were going to be once I had the dog, and now I can say that they are very different . . . but in the best possible ways. Having the dog has made me a more confident traveler and greatly enriched my quality of life. I’m so grateful to the folks at MIRA USA and MIRA Canada for making all this possible. - Meredith
It seems like we can read each others emotion, if I am happy, he is happy, if I am hesitant he can tell. He is one of the best friends I have ever had, and I love him more than anything in the world. A guide dog is a lot of responsibility, you have to feed and water him, and also pick up after him, if you know what I mean. It is best if you make a schedule so you have an idea when it has to do its business. Brushing your dog is also important, having a guide dog is not all work and he will be your best friend. I have a special way of telling him when its time to eat because I forgot the french word, when I say food he comes blasting through the house like a one dog rocket ship skidding on the wood floor, it is so hilarious. I hope you new MIRA students find your four legged friend. - Samantha
“Sandy” is awesome! I have a long distance to walk between classes and he does a great job guiding me through crowded hallways to get me where I need to go. He is very popular and gets alot of attention, but the kids at my school are respectful and don’t pet or talk to him. It is great having him at school with me. – Ryan
You know how you’re supposed to learn something new every day? I used not to believe that gibberish, that is until “Navy” came into my life. “Navy” is a part of me now, my dog, my friend, my eyes, he’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of. I used to be scared of crowds, large clusters of kids, but not anymore. I can finally walk down the halls of my school with my chin held high, and a smile that isn’t fake. Getting lost used to be my greatest fear, but now, whenever “Navy” and me get turned around, I can actually laugh at the situation. I trust my dog, I love my dog, and I can proudly say without doubt, he loves me too. - Darcie
I have to say that in the past Orientation and Mobility was extremely intimidating, but since having my loyal companion, “Robbie”, I have actually looked forward to experiencing new challenges. Having “Robbie” has changed my life in more ways than I can put in words. I am not saying that is has all been easy, but I am saying that he has made the challenges less intimidating. He is incredible! He knows my routine and I know his. I don’t think I have had to use a “sighted guide” one time since having him. You have NOOO idea how relieved I am about that alone! He very rarely makes mistakes and he takes GREAT care of me. In return, I love him more than I have ever loved anything in my life, other than my family. So, to all the potential candidates, be prepared for the most exciting time of your lives. Don’t stress the small stuff, when you are matched up with the right dog for you, the connection will be there and you will know it almost immediately. Your dog is your “new” eyes. You will feel protected like you have never felt before. You will have confidence, if perhaps you didn’t before . . . and last but not least, you will experience a love that is different than anything you have experienced in your life. - Michael
AJ says, he is doing very well, enjoying the freedom “Martin” has given him. He is doing things that he was told by former teachers that he couldn’t do, and that is attending college. AJ has been going out with friends and enjoying being a teenager. “Martin” means companionship, freedom and alot of responsibility, but AJ says its all worth it. He has become his own man, he loves his dog, and thanks MIRA USA and MIRA Canada for all the blessings given to him. - AJ
“Nipi” has had many new adventures this school year: from going nose-to-nose with a friendly Quarter Horse named Hawk in the mountains, and steering me clear of Hawk’s hooves, to helping me stay safe in a new school (Junior High!) “Nipi” brings me adventures, love and laughter. We keep each other safe. - Cricket