Maryland

Service dog helps local students learn about visually impaired community

Service dog helps local students...

Salisbury, MD - Students at James M. Bennett High School got some surprise visitors Friday thanks to the Lion Club of Salisbury.

Jeff Hawkins and his guide dog Gracie met with kids in the high school Leo Club to learn more about the blind and visually impaired community plus how his guide dog brought him back to living his life the way he did before going blind.

Hawkins, born and raised in Michigan, was a paramedic for almost 25 years before early retirement due to loss of sight.

Losing his independence and way of life was next, but that all changed when he got his service dog Gracie.

And it's all thanks to an organization called Leader Dogs for the Blind, a guide dog program that empowers people who are blind, visually impaired or Deaf-Blind with skills to lead an independent life.

Now he's back to living life the way he did before losing his sight.

He tells 47 ABC, "The more people I can say 'look what I do' even though it looks like I'm talking about myself I'm out there trying to change that perception."

Adding, "My big focus now is to go around and there's such a misperception of the blind in the visually impaired world. Most people think we don't see anything and we don't do anything and we're not good for anything and that's the exact opposite."

Thanks to fundraising efforts from the school's Leo Club, they presented Jeff and Gracie with a $500 check to go towards Leader Dogs for the Blind.


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