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A commitment to independence

Emmanuel Dillion and Guiding Eyes dog Reedby Guiding Eyes graduate Emmanuel Dillion

Hey what’s up everybody! And for all the proper people out there, hello ladies and gentlemen. My name is Emmanuel Dillion and I’m here to tell you a little story about myself and my experience with Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

Seven years ago, I became blind due to cryptococcal meningitis. Yeah, cryptococcal sounds like something out of a Superman movie. But that stuff was deadly, and let’s just say I’m lucky to be here. I lost my sight overnight; I literally went to sleep being able to see and woke up in the middle of the morning in total darkness. And to top it off, I had just recently turned 21.

I haven’t met one blind person that hasn’t been depressed when they were going blind or went blind. But – with the help of my family and friends, I was able to overcome that depression and replace it with determination. I made a commitment at that time that I would do whatever it takes to be able to live a normal and independent life.

I knew from the beginning I wanted a guide dog. People love dogs and you’re more approachable with a dog; it can be hard to get close to a guy swinging his long white cane from left to right.

Fast forward to May, 2013.  My new guide dog is a male yellow Lab named Reed. As my favorite basketball player is Willis Reed from the New York Knicks, this felt right immediately! Reed (the dog) is energetic and smart and loves to be outside. When I found out he was raised in my hometown of Brooklyn, I knew he was the perfect match.

Reed is not just my guide dog. He has become my best friend, my sidekick and my partner in crime. Yesterday, we went for a long walk together – 26 blocks to be exact. I haven’t walked that far since I lost my sight.

Guiding Eyes helped me fulfill that commitment I made to myself seven years ago, and finally – I got my independence back.

Emmanuel and Reed safely cross a busy NYC street

Interested in raising a puppy that could give independence to someone like Emmanuel? Learn more how to Become a Pappy Raiser.