It’s hard to believe this year was our 13th Annual Walk for Sight! About 275 walkers ventured through historic downtown Concord, spreading the message that anyone can live and thrive with vision loss.
Though multiple new elements were added this year, one key aspect remained the same: our largest fundraising event would not be possible without our generous sponsors, numerous volunteers, and enthusiastic walkers, as well as the many members of our board and staff. Together, we raised almost $85,000 for vital vision rehabilitation programs and services. Thanks to everyone who made this event a resounding success!
Impressive Fundraising Efforts
Frank Haley and his family have been loyal supporters of the Walk for Sight since it began in 2003. Frank spends countless hours visiting family, friends, and former colleagues in person to ask for their support. This year Frank raised $8,826 to earn the Top Individual Fundraiser award! To demonstrate just how passionate Frank is about our organization, he has donated a grand total of more than $63,000 at our annual walk events.
In addition to the top individual, our Top Team Fundraiser was “Dog Gone Best Team!” representing the Dog Guide Users of NH. This volunteer-driven support group promotes the use of service dogs for the disabled through peer support, advocacy, education, and public awareness. After raising $3,366 toward our mission, they will actually receive half of the funds back for their efforts as part of our nonprofit 50/50 split program.
Inventive 2016 Walk Features
Our first ever #WalkInMyShoes event offered the chance for several fully sighted walkers to look at vision loss differently, walking with trained sighted guides while wearing blindfolds or simulator glasses. These participants were excited to challenge themselves and take their involvement in the event a step further. Even those who weren’t part of the special feature were inspired by those around them who took part in #WalkInMyShoes and by those walkers who were blind or visually impaired. Chairman of our Board and founder of 2020 Vision Quest, Randy Pierce, even took the opportunity to share with those around him about his experience as a person who is blind, particularly some of the youngest walkers!
For years Guiding Eyes for the Blind’s NH Puppy Raising Region has taken time to educate our walkers. But this was the first year these furry friends joined us right in the heart of everything! Their “puppy kisses” booth at our headquarters was a highlight of everyone’s time, as the dogs shared their joy and spread their love. We’re grateful to the puppies and their humans for making our event more fun, while taking donations for us too.
Important Reminder of Our Impact
We were honored to have some unique insight into the work we do from our volunteer musician, Bob Ayala of Nashua. Bob is a longtime resident of New Hampshire, who also happens to be blind. With fellow musicians from his support network surrounding him, Bob was eager to donate his time and provide music at the walk:
The effect that technology has had upon the blind community over the past 30 years or so is remarkable. When I was a client of the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation back in the late 1960s and early 70s, there weren’t a lot of options for the blind. I knew a number of blind students who were very bright but couldn’t get hired. But now, with the advent of all the new technologies such as screen readers, braille displays, and the independence afforded us with GPS, a whole new world has opened up to the blind and visually impaired!
When given the right tools, those of us who are blind can do anything! This is what makes the work of the New Hampshire Association of the Blind so vital, not only for the visually impaired but also for our communities. Everybody wins, and it all starts with having the right tools and training — which is why I was so happy to be a part of the Walk for Sight event and to be, in a very small way, helping the New Hampshire Association of the Blind.
Want to be part of what we’re doing in New Hampshire? There are plenty of ways to get involved, so you don’t need to wait until the next Walk for Sight — though we hope to see you there on June 3, 2017.