Visually impaired Paralympic swimmer, Cornelle Leach, is one of the very happy owners of a South African Guide Dogs Association support dog. Cornelle was born with Stargardt disease, a genetic visual impairment that causes progressive vision loss. She started swimming as a sport when she was 11 years old.
“I realised that I could no longer take part in team sports as I could not see the ball in netball and hockey, even when the teachers tried to make things easier with a neon ball and neon vests. Swimming was my outlet,” she explains.
Cornelle credits her beautiful black guide dog, Vogue, as one of the reasons for her excellent progress in the pool. “She enabled me to walk to the gym every day and because of that, I qualified to compete at the World Para Swimming Championships in 2019,” the Paralympian says.
“She has attended all my swim meets and practices since I got her, and sometimes she would support me by running up and down the pool length, when I reach the end, she would congratulate me with a big fat kiss across my face…”
Training a guide dog like Vogue is very costly and owning one is not affordable for everyone. However, having a service dog can be life changing to a person with special needs like the blind, physically impaired or children on the lower autism spectrum. A service dog can help hugely with mobility, independence, confidence and companionship.
Cornell Leache’s appeal for SA Guide Dogs Association
After sharing her story on Jacaranda FM’s Good Morning Angels this morning, Cornelle has called on its listeners to help raise funds so that more dogs can be trained and, eventually, change the lives of countless others like her.
“It costs hundreds of thousands of rands to train an assistance dog and hours to train visually impaired clients on how to use assistive devices,” Pieter van Niekerk, SA Guide Dogs PR manager says.
“Every bit of your donation will go a long way on positively changing lives of people. We have a huge deficit caused by COVID-19 and the continuous economic decline. The money raised through the Telethon will help go towards much-needed training costs.”
Jacaranda FM’s Good Morning Angels Fund will get the ball rolling to assist the SA Guide Dogs Association with their fundraiser with a donation of R25,000 but the association is calling on South Africa to donate what they can.
Your donations can make a big difference:
- R100 could go towards educational and sensory toys for our puppies in puppy block.
- R250 could go towards a collar or blanket for a puppy.
- R500 could go towards an assistive device such as a cane or a harness.
- R1,000 could go towards a training session for an Assistance Dog or O&M Client.
There are many payment options available and our friendly SA Guide Dogs Staff will be able to assist you with the best option to suit you.
For more information on the Telethon and how to donate read more here: https://guidedog.org.za/sa-guide-dogs-telethon/.