The fundraiser wasn’t for me!

Last night I went to a fundraiser in a pub in Greencastle, about forty minutes from where I live. It was a barbecue and raffle, to raise money for
who will be going to China for stem cell treatment to possibly help restore her sight. I work with Keri regularly in her school. She’s a great child with an amazing personality, which is why the presenter of ICR’s talk show instantly decided to organise the fundraiser after interviewing her.

My PA drove OJ and I down, and the rain just about stayed off for the barbecue. Everybody was very friendly and of course O.J was the centre of attention as usual. While I was being chatted up by a creepy Latvian fella with English that was almost impossible to understand, O.J got some water and was put in a small room beside the bar where we were sitting. It meant that drunk people couldn’t stand on him, but he could still see what was going on. The subject of feeding guide dogs came up briefly at one stage, but the barman obviously forgot. When we came inside after getting food, he told me that O.J had been “fed and watered” and was happily sleeping. Apparently he only gave him half of a bun, but I think he told me that when he saw my reaction and realised that I wasn’t impressed. After all, who would give a labrador with puppydog eyes a bun, when there were burgers and sausages on offer as well! I did mention the no feeding rule before, but obviously wasn’t serious enough, so I couldn’t really get annoyed at him .

The fact that O.J was fed when he wasn’t supposed too was the least of my problems. When we got there we realised that Keri and her family were unable to make it to the event. People kept talking about how the funraiser was for a blind girl who wanted to get her sight back, and since I was the only blind person there, lots of them got the wrong idea. The woman singing announced what the money was being raised for, and a few people smiled over at me sympathetically. A couple of them tapped me on the shoulder as they were walking past and wished me good luck. I have no intentions of trying to have my sight restored. I wrote about it here
a couple of years ago
and nothing has changed since. I spent the rest of the evening clarifying that I wasn’t Keri, and I wasn’t going to China any time soon. The last thing I want is for people to see me out with my guide dog in a years time and think, either my opporation didn’t work and feel sorry for me, or that I scammed them all because I never even went to China.

Luckily I have a good sense of humour about these things. Seriously though, I hope things go well for Keri. She will go far whatever happens, regardless of whether she has sight or not.


Stem cell treatment: am I crazy?

I know somebody who has recently been accepted to go to China for stem cell treatment. Its all very exciting!
I didn’t take much interest in this research until I heard an interview with the father of
Dakota Clarke
from Northern Ireland. Its a fascinating story.

At the moment I am unable to benefit from a treatment like this, but who knows what will happen in the future. If I was offered a treatment to restore my sight tomorrow though, I wouldn’t be tempted at all. Am I crazy?

Being blind can sometimes be a pain. You can’t drive, and it takes longer to do things. You have to deal with patronising people, and people who are afraid of anything that is different.
Of course I wonder what my family and friends look like. Of course I’m curious to know what people, places and objects look like. I know I would be a very different person if I could see, but not necessarily a better one.

I can completely understand why people have opporations and undergo treatment, and really want their sight back. There’s nothing wrong with it at all, and I love hearing the success stories as much as everybody else. I think losing your sight gradually or suddenly would be very difficult, and I’m glad I’ve been blind all my life and never had to go through that pain. That’s what I’m used to, so suppose i’d be afraid of living any other way.

Is having a disability really so bad that everybody should want rid of it? I know lots of disabilities are difficult, painful and restricting. People deal with things differently, and shouldn’t be compared or generalised because of their disability. I’m healthy and happy and fortunate to live the way I do. I just happen to be blind and happy being blind.

I found an interesting perspective on this on a post on
Alex Scott’s blog
The post suggests that nobody would really want to retain their disability if they had a way of curing it. My parents enquired about treatment for me in America when I was very small, and a doctor they talked to had the same attitude. He asked them if they really thought Stevie Wonder would still be blind if he could cure his sight problem? I’ve heard that he said he’d like to see his family, so maybe he would like his sight restored, but that isn’t really the point. Assuming that nobody in the world wants to be blind is either an incorrect assumption, or I’m the odd one out!