When Tommy Gibson was given three months to live, little did he know that a decade later, he would not only be alive and well, but fundraising with his four-legged best friend for an organization that changed his life.
The former data network manager was diagnosed with AIDS in 1995 and then lost his sight due to cytomegalovirus — having had multiple retinal detachments and 26 surgeries in 13 months. It was then that he gave up his life in New York City to move to Delaware. “I moved there to die,” he recalled.
But with the right drug protocol, Tommy was disease-free within 10 years. It was also during this time that he was matched with his first Guiding Eyes guide dog, Opus, who gave him the inspiration to start working again. Now a licensed massage therapist and Reiki master, Tommy has been happily working since 2013.
Tommy recently graduated with his second Guiding Eyes dog, Argo, who he fondly describes as having the best skills of any dog he’s ever known. “Argo in Greek means swift, but it’s also the boat that Jason and the Argonauts sailed on in search of the Golden Fleece,” he explains. “Life with Argo is like ‘Project Pegasus.’ Before I got Argo, my wings were clipped. But with him, I have my wings back.”
Tommy knows from experience how greatly a guide dog can impact one’s life. So when he heard about the chance to participate in the Guiding Eyes Wag-a-thon, he jumped at the opportunity.
“It costs $50,000 to breed, train, and support a guide dog team, and Guiding Eyes provides them to people like myself at no cost,” Tommy said. “So this fundraiser was important to me because I wanted a way to give back to this organization. They gave me back my freedom and independence, so this is my way of saying thank you.”
Tommy’s efforts to help those who are visually impaired continue on even as the Wag-a-thon wraps up. He was recently featured in his local media, where he educates others about Guiding Eyes and its life-changing mission:
WRDE.com: Lewes man, guide dog seek community support in month-long fundraiser
Cape Gazette: Man, dog walk for charity
In total, close to 1,000 Guiding Eyes supporters walked and ran a virtual marathon throughout the month of May to raise funds in support of Guiding Eyes’ mission. On behalf of our staff, volunteers, and graduates, we would like to thank everyone who participated. Your support truly makes a difference in the lives of those with vision loss.
And while May be coming to a close, there’s still time to get involved and donate! To cheer Tommy on and support his fundraiser, visit https://give.guidingeyes.org/wag-a-thon/Member/MyPage/1935184/Tommy-Gibson.