Rotary cooks up a plan to raise $35,000 for a guide dog

Volunteers from the Rotary Club of North Orange have been setting up sausage sizzles at two Orange supermarkets in a bid to raise $35,000 to get a guide dog.

FUNDRAISING DRIVE: Guide Dogs NSW/ACT PR spokesman Matt Bryant and Bronco, with Rotary Club of North Orange volunteers Ian Davidson and David Driscoll who are trying to raise $35,000 to get a guide dog for the region.

FUNDRAISING DRIVE: Guide Dogs NSW/ACT PR spokesman Matt Bryant and Bronco, with Rotary Club of North Orange volunteers Ian Davidson and David Driscoll who are trying to raise $35,000 to get a guide dog for the region.

Rotary Club of North Orange member David Driscoll said it costs $35,000 to breed and train a guide dog, and the dog supplied as a result of the fundraising campaign will go to a person with vision impairment from the region.

However, a recipient has not been selected yet for the project, which has been named Our First Orange Dog.

The campaign has reached the halfway mark in terms of donations and pledges and will culminate in a sponsored walk through Orange Botanic Gardens on March 26.

Mr Driscoll organised the fundraising drive after being inspired by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT public relations spokesman Matt Bryant when he made a speech at the club.

Mr Bryant spoke about how his life has improved the independence he has gained since getting guide dog Bronco four years ago and new the club wants to help someone else improve their life in the same manner.

Mr Driscoll said the rotary club set up a barbecue at Ashcroft’s Supa IGA in Peisley Street last Friday and they will be holding more barbecues each Saturday at Harris Farm Markets until the sponsored walk takes place.

He said several businesses have contributed to the cause financially and the super markets donated meat and bread. 

However, he said there is plenty of hard work to go and they are still looking for more sponsors.

Mr Bryant is attending each fundraising barbecue with his seeing-eye dog to help gain support.

“Seeing a real guide dog in action helps them put their hand in their pocket,” Mr Driscoll said. 

As well as attending each barbecue to help raise support, Mr Bryant has also been given time off work from Optus Business Centre so he can give talks to more than 4000 students in the Orange area about the role and importance of guide dogs.

During the talk he will also discuss the importance of not patting a working guide dog in a harness, because it will distract the dog. 

He said people should interact with the person and ignore the dog.

“I’ve had Bronco just over four years, he’s my first guide dog,” Mr Bryant said.

“I’m 36 years old and I lost my eyesight in the beginning of year 12 at school.

“I had perfect vision but one night I woke up completely blind in my right eye and the other has gradually deteriorated and it’s an inherited condition.

“Having a guide dog has made me completely independent.”

He said with Bronco’s help he can get around, work full-time job, bowl and take part in a radio show without leaning on his family to much.

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