The Lions Club raised over R135 000 in at banquet held last Friday, June 30, to support the Claremont-based South African Guide-Dogs Association.
Over 200 guests, which included donors and guide-dog owners, attended the event at the Tummiluv building in Green Point.
A three-course meal was prepared by celebrity chef, Jenny Morris, entertainment was provided by singer Michaela Saayman and a raffle and auction also took place to raise funds.
District Governor of Lions 410 W, Charles Flanagan was the MC and auctioneer of the night. The Lions 410 W district represents over 50 Lions clubs which includes clubs from the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Namibia. Mr Flanagan says their main goal was to reach over R100 000 to sponsor a litter of guide-dog puppies and anything over that amount raised would go towards the Orientation and Mobility Department of the Guide-Dogs association.
“The Lions is a worldwide organisation and all funds raised for any of our projects goes 100% into it,” he says.
Marketing manager of the Guide-Dogs Claremont branch, Jackie Quail says they are grateful for the Lions selecting them as a beneficiary for this fundraising event. “We are blown away by the amount of over R135 000 that was raised at this event,” she says.
She says R100 000 would go towards sponsoring a litter of puppies, and the Lions can name one of the puppies. She says the remaining R35 000 supports their Orientation and Mobility Department. “Our Orientation and Mobility team goes out into communities and trains visually impaired people in daily life skills, like how to walk with a long cane, how to cook, clean and use the ATM machine,” she says.
Guide-dog owner, Michelle Nell, from Stellenbosch, says she was diagnosed with low-vision from birth, which means she has less than 5% of her sight and she can only see colour and light. She used a long cane growing up but while doing her honours in Music at Stellenbosch University she decided to adopt a guide dog. “The Guide-Dogs Association has been fabulous. They showed me how to work carefully with giving clear demands to my guide dog, Luna.”
Ms Nell, who previously owned another guide-dog from the association called Donna, says they are the most loyal dogs. “The dogs sacrifice a lot of themselves so that they can give their owners freedom and independence,” she says.
Another guide-dog owner, Christopher Venter, 49, from Hermanus, lost his sight when he was 41. He worked as a chef for 22 years before losing his sight. He lost his sight through an eye illness while doing a long fundraising campaign where he was on a 20 000 mile expedition from Cape Town to Dublin, Ireland.
“I went blind and I thought my life would be over, and I had to learn about being blind,” he says. He says he managed to overcome many obstacles over the past few years and he still lives his active lifestyle which includes extreme sports like climbing active volcanoes, hiking through indigenous forests in Italy, and driving a brand new Lamborghini through a stretch of road through the Cape Agulhas. “One of the greatest things that happened to me when I went blind was meeting my guide dog, Sam, who is super smart, steady and what the Guide-Dogs Association does makes the world of difference to people like me,” he says.
Guide-dog owner, Dries Burger, 41, from Worcester, says he has been working closely with the Guide-Dogs Association since 2002. His dog, Reeva, is the third guide dog he received from the organisation. “My guide dog gives me a lot of independence. If I want to walk anywhere, like going to the shop or visiting friends, Zeeva will guide me safely,” he says.
The Guide-Dogs Association is celebrating their 70th anniversary. To find out more about their work, visit guidedog.org.za or email JackieQ@guidedog.org.za for more information.