This idea was so wonderful, I didn’t want to limit it among just a few people. So, with a few phone calls and Emails, Dixie Land Guide Dog Users, the Association for the Blind and the folks at Grace United Methodist Church were invited and excited about getting involved!
On May 15, we gathered for what I hope to be the first of many spring picnics. Our group consisted of blind and sighted folks of all ages, along with some of the best guide dogs (both working and retired) in the whole wide world! Although Hampton Park was closed to the general public, the kind folks at the City of Charleston Parks & Recreation Department issued Dixie Land GDU a special permit to exclusively host this event.
Northbridge Piggly Wiggly delivered the lip-smacking southern fried chicken, yummy 'tater wedges, baked beans and other fixin's, which, by the way, were all sponsored by Dr. Virgil Alfaro and his Charleston Neuroscience Institute. We had lots of guests, including Cornelia Pelzer and Nicole Harvey, from the Association for the Blind; Carolyn & Jack Baker, from Grace UMC's Disabilities' Ministries; and Peter Smith and his friends from the Charleston Flyers. (Most folks also brought a favorite picnic dish to share!) After eating all the great food and goodies everyone brought, all “outa sight” guests, including “yours truly” each enjoyed a bike ride around the park, with tandem bikes and sighted pilots courtesy of The Association for the Blind, Peter Smith, his Charleston Fliers and other members of the Charleston Cyclists.
I’m especially proud of “my” kids. Shelby faced her apprehensions and climbed onto a bike behind a pilot whom she had never met before.
Taylor took a spin around the park and even paused to triumphantly sound the bicycle horn as he returned from his ride.
I would like to thank Bill and Debbie Craig; Dixie Land Guide Dog Users; Betty and Jerry Stebbins; Kim and Tim Taylor (with retired guide dog Rufus); Dorace Lackey (and retired guide dog Smokey); The Association for the Blind; Northbridge Piggly Wiggly; the Charleston Parks and Recreation Department; Grace UMC; Dr. Alfaro and Charleston Neuroscience and of course, the Charleston Fliers for your part in making this time of food, fun, fellowship and furries such a success!
Stay tuned for more posts like this one. Until next time, God bless you and keep His Song in your heart!
© 2010 by Laurel Jean Walden