February’s Challenge

Through January and February 2014 Katherine, Natalie and Patricia will be riding around New South Wales to raise funds for Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.

Riding For Indpendence LogoI’ve known Katherine for a few years now, she rides with Exsight Tandems in Sydney and Wollongong, and even took my place on the Management Committee when I moved back to Armidale.

Katherine is aiming to raise $30,000 by riding through all the major NSW Centres with Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Offices. Starting from Glossodia where the Guide Dogs training facility is located, they will head to Canberra, Gundagai, Albury, Wagga Wagga, Cowra, Orange, Wellington, Coolah, Tamworth, Newcastle, Taree, Coffs Harbour, Ballina, Grafton and then ride to the head office in Chatswood. (full route)

It’s an epic ride, and one that I know Katherine is keen to complete. Katherine is a visually impaired stoker like myself, and we’ve both received services from Guide Dogs NSW/ACT. Guide Dogs provides a wide range of service (not just Guide Dogs) to people who are blind or have low vision, along with pets as therapy and other services. The services are delivered free to the client.

What makes Guide Dogs NSW/ACT even more remarkable is they do all this with no government funding, relying solely on donations, bequests and sponsorships. Myself and Katherine are two of more than 100,000 people in NSW and the ACT who receive these services. Without Guide Dogs NSW/ACT I wouldn’t be able to lead the independent life I do, and nor would thousands of others.

So why the $30,000 target? This is the cost to train one single Guide Dog, from breeding to training, to training with the client (which is an intensive six week program). According to a recent article, there are around 30 people on the waiting list for a Guide Dog in NSW. Having been recently accepted for training with a Guide Dog, which we expect to get next year, I can appreciate exactly how much this kind of fund-raising can help Guide Dogs.

So Dave and I will be joining Katherine and Natalie on their ride from Tamworth towards Newcastle. We’re yet to settle on our final itinerary, having families we’ve got to do some planning, but we’ll be with them for a couple of days. We’re also trying to come up with a local, Armidale, fund-raiser. We’ll keep you posted of details.

If you’re live in any of the places that the ride passes through, there will be fund-raisers going on, so keep your ears to the ground, and check the Riding For Independence blog or Facebook page for more info. Or you can donate via Everyday Hero.

For more information on Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, the work they do, and other way you can help, visit http://guidedogs.com.au.

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