Many children are faced with the challenge of loss of sight. This is a difficult condition for many human beings. All around you is darkness and heavy reliance on your four other senses is vital.
Mercifully, there is a foundation that focuses on providing help to blind children. The MIRA Foundation USA, is a national non-profit organiza-tion that offers guide dogs, free of charge, to blind children. The foundation’s mission is to provide targeted educational outreach to promote public awareness and services for support to the adult population and their families.
Beth Daniels, executive director of the MIRA Foundation USA, says the foundations is going into its third year and has placed eight guide dogs with blind children so far.
“Historically, guide dogs are not given to blind people until the age of 18,” Daniels explains. “We are the only foundation that provides guide dogs for blind children between the ages of 11 and 17,” Daniel explains.
Guide dogs produce a social bridge for the children. The dogs allow for more independence and freedom that they can’t achieve with the use of a cane. A cane may be useful in some ways, but in no circumstance can it be compared to the better usage and stability of a guide dog.
Of course, the Mira Foundation owes much of its success to the heroes that are changing these children’s lives one day at a time — the guide dogs of the MIRA Foundation. Careful breeding is important to the success of the foun-dation. The goal, when breeding the best dog, is to look for the best physical and behavioral features. The foundation wants to ensure compatibility with their necessary requirement for creating the best guide dogs for these children. Foundation staff has discovered the best breed is a mixture of Labrador and Mountain Bernese, which creates the Labernese.
Michael Moore, 18, is a resident in the Fayetteville community and attends the Governor Morehead School for the blind in Raleigh. Moore has one of the guide dog. Robbie, Moore’s dog, came from the MIRA Foundation. His mother, Michelle Moore, could not be more pleased to have this dog in their lives.
“The foundation has been awesome and the expe-rience has been wonderful for Michael,” Moore says. “Had he gotten this dog in middle school he would have stayed mainstream in Cumberland County.”
Moore explained that the bond between Robbie and Michael is strong.
“He is the sweetest dog,” she said. “A lot of places do not advocate guide dogs for children but the Mira Foundation does and we are so pleased.”
Currently, the Mira Foundation has plans to place two more dogs with blind children in Fayetteville.
MIRA Foundation USA has many events in the Fayetteville area. The third annual Sandhills Dining in the Dark Dinner on April 28, will be held at the elegant Pinehurst Member’s Club. The event will allow guests to eat their meal blindfolded to experience being blind.
The Mira Foundation has its only office in Aberdeen, N.C., on 112 N. Poplar St., but they are continuing to expand. The foundation is focused on making a better life for children who are blind.
For more information about the MIRA Foundation USA or to volunteer, visit www.mirausa.org or contact the main office at 944-7757.
Photo: The Mira Foundation has discovered the best breed for their guide dogs is a mixture of Labrador and Mountain Bernice, which creates the Labernese.