by Jessica Woods
This past weekend, I had the incredible opportunity to attend an annual walkathon at the school where I received Bristol. Walkathon is a yearly fund raiser Southeastern puts together. I would like to share with you some of the experiences that Bristol and I had while attending the event.
The trip down there and back was absolutely hilarious. We had five people and seven dogs in one van for eight hours. At times it was total chaos. The dogs kept climbing in our laps because they did not have room on the floor. Poor Bristol had to share me with six other dogs. At times he got a little jealous. But for the most part, he did not seem to mind. He was happy just to be with the other dogs.
Once we got there, I had an incredible opportunity to tour parts of the school that I did not have time to do while I got Bristol three years ago. I learned more about how they breed and train the puppies. I also learned of all of the great changes that is going on at the school. The school is always expanding and improving the services that they provide to the many people associated with them.
The best part of the weekend for me was being able to spend time with my best friend Donna. I met her when I got Bristol and have not seen her since. It was great to be able to talk to her in person. The reunion with her is a memory that I will cherish for a long time to come. It was as though we had never been separated from each other. We instantly fell back in with each other.
The actual walk took place on Saturday morning. It was a three mile walk that took us about two hours to complete. I walked it with my friend Donna, her guide dog Kelly and one of Donna’s friends. I absolutely had a blast. Even though it was a long walk, I had fun spending time and talking with my friend. Once the walk was over, there was music and other entertainment. The school also provided the participants with lunch. After the entertainment, Southeastern gave out various prizes. Over the last four months, puppy raisers and guide dog users have been selling raffle tickets. The prizes for these were given out at the walk. There were also other raffles at the event in which people could win items. In addition to the raffles was a silent auction. This was for some of the bigger items that were donated to the event as prizes. After this the walkathon was over.
There was a social dinner for all of the people at the hotel Saturday night. This gave everyone a chance to share their experiences during the walk. Sunday morning a group provided breakfast for Southeastern graduates. This gave the graduates time to talk to each other about various things. We discussed changes that were going on at the school, how we were handling our guide dogs, and many other topics.
Overall, it was a weekend that I will not soon forget. I am so glad I had the opportunity to go. I’m looking forward to attending it next year. I am already helping with preparations for next year’s walk. My area puppy raiser group is putting together gift baskets and other things throughout the year.
I would now like to take a moment to thank all of the people who helped my dream of attending this amazing event become a reality. I would especially like to thank Judy Golding and her family for providing my travel expenses. Without their generosity, I don’t know if I would have had the funds to go. Thank you once again for making one of my dreams come true. I would also like to thank Doug and Becky Adkins, and all of the countless people who donated money to the school. All of the money that was donated went directly to the school. Thank you so much for helping me support Southeastern Guide Dogs. Thank you to the puppy raisers who took me down with them to the event. I will always be grateful for the opportunity you gave me.