Orange North Rotary fundraising efforts give gift of independence
Thirty-five thousand dollars is no small change, but the life-changing gift it can purchase is truly priceless.
Last week, local Rotarians were able to hand over that amount to Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, which is what it costs to raise and train a Guide Dog for a vision impaired person.
It is the second guide dog that members of the Rotary Club of Orange North have been able to fund over the last three years, said past club president Steve Jackson.
Steve said the impetus for the original project was the one of their newer members Matt Bryant, who is vision impaired. His guide dog Bronco has been made an official club member and is possibly the only canine Rotarian in the world.
“Three years ago, we did a project involving the Department of Education and 21 schools, with Matt and Bronco giving presentations to the students, we raised $35,000 and that money has gone toward a guide dog that is now operable called Autumn,” said Steve.
The club’s latest fundraiser effort culminated in the extremely well supported ‘Lead the Way’ concert last September, which featured six local choirs and a performance from internationally acclaimed Australian (now New York based) pianist Andrea Lam.
The concert even prompted one very generous audience to make a substantial donation of $10,000 in memory of her late husband.
“The club is very appreciative of the support it has received from the Orange community regarding this project,” said Steve.
“The impact which it brings to a vision impaired person is life-changing and provides them with a new found freedom as the dog becomes their eyes and ears to the world.”
Being vision impaired himself, Matt Bryant knows first-hand just what a difference their fundraising efforts have made.
“What a guide dog does for somebody like myself is it gives me back my independence,” said Matt.
“Yeah, there are mobility aids like long canes and things like that, but a guide dog is so much better. You can walk at your own pace and you get a best mate for life. What the Orange community have done is going to be fantastic for somebody like me.”
The Rotary Club of Orange North wished to thank their many supporters, including: Orange Regional Conservatorium, the Clontarf Foundation, Orange High School, the De Russie Boutique Hotel, Mulberry Lane Veterinary Hospital, Ashcroft’s IGA Supermarkets, M & J Butchery and Cumulus Wines.