On Saturday Wiley and I were invited to be the guest speaker at a local Lions Club Christmas Luncheon.
We had a wonderful time, everybody was so friendly and interested in Wiley and the work he does for me. The meal was delicious, as I am a vegetarian I feasted on a mixed salad for entree, a pasta dish for main and a selection of summer fruit for deserts. My waitress was very considerate and explained what was on my plate for each meal.
After the entree there was a christmas themed trivia quiz, as much as I love Christmas I had no idea of the majority of answers. Luckily for me my lovely quiz partner was much better – she did so well she came in equal first place.
There was a lucky door prize which I was invited to draw, rather embarrassingly I picked my own name out of the box. The prize of a class full of chocolates was very appreciated.
I gave my speech after the main meal. Towards the end I tried to give my talk a little Christmas twist, this in an excerpt of what I said (well the gist if not my exact words).
As I was writing this speech my thoughts turned to Christmas, a time of hope, joy and goodwill. It occurred to me that I am very fortunate as I experience a little touch of Christmas everyday.
Because of Wiley my future holds lots of hope, dreams and goals that I know I can achieve. Loving him provides me with boundless and constant joy.
I am incredibly blessed that I frequently experience lovely acts of kindness.
In fact I live with a not so little, black and furry bundle of Goodwill. The only reason I have Wiley is because of his wonderful puppy raisers. They spent 12 months loving, living and working with him and then selflessly returned him to training so he could eventually become my wonderful Guide. I can only imagine what a sacrifice and how difficult that must have been.
It is thanks to public generosity, through donations, bequests and fundraising that Guide Dogs can provide all their services and programs free of charge to their clients. Currently the Guide Dog program gets no government funding. It costs over $30 000 to train one dog until they are placed with their handler – that is an awful lot of generosity.
Then there are people in the community who go out of their way to improve the lives of people who may be disadvantaged or disabled. For an example of this we have to look no further than two of your members.
These members have invested a lot of time, energy and effort into starting a Canberra chapter of the Achilles running group. Thanks to them and all the sighted volunteer running guides I have been able to get back into running – something I thought was lost to me forever. There is also always a lovely volunteer there who is happy to take care of and walk Wiley while I run.
I am very grateful that I am frequently asked by members of the public if I need assistance, whether it is to cross an especially busy road, catch the correct bus or to locate something in a store. These people often go out of their way to make things a little easier for me.
I may be vision impaired but I regularly get to see the very best in people.
After my speech I was presented with some lovely thank you gifts including a soft teddy, which I will keep out of Wiley’s way as he loves cuddly toys. Wiley was given a Christmas collar and we also got a beautiful certificate of appreciation.
Then there was the raffle. Surprisingly after my previous effort they still trusted me to draw the first ticket. I am thankful that this time I didn’t pull my name out of the hat!
After the formal activities had been wrapped up I got to chat to a couple of the members before I took Wiley out for a wee walk. Talking about Wiley he was a very good boy, it wasn’t terribly taxing work as he got to sleep most of the time. At least he didn’t start to snore during my talk 🙂
I was a little tired by the time I got home but I had an absolutely wonderful afternoon.