Need for Charity No Greater Than Now

Written by Ted Barris, Author and Journalist | May 25th, 2021

Jonathan Wilson will graduate in about a year. He’ll complete the Journalism and Mass Media program at Durham College. Despite having to adapt to online learning for the past year from his home in Uxbridge, he’s getting A’s in his grades, and earning praise for his portfolio of stories.Jonathan Wilson will graduate in about a year. He’ll complete the Journalism and Mass Media program at Durham College. Despite having to adapt to online learning for the past year from his home in Uxbridge, he’s getting A’s in his grades, and earning praise for his portfolio of stories.

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Once he graduates, Jonathan will start beating the bushes for full-time work as a professional journalist. His mom, Lisa Wilson, is proud of her son’s accomplishments. She’s also thankful for the charity of others.

“If it wasn’t for the Lions Foundation and Dog Guides Canada,” Lisa told a handful of us this week, “none of this would’ve been possible.”

 

Under normal circumstances, at about noon this Sunday, May 30, dozens of dogs and their owners would gather at the Lions pavilion in Elgin Park. I say normally, because we’ve been doing this like clockwork for each of the past 20 years.

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Most of us would be completing our pledge forms, handing in the cash from donations, and meeting some of the beneficiaries of the Dog Guides program – people such as Jonathan – before starting our walkathon around town to demonstrate our dedication to the international Dog Guides program.

About nine years ago, Jonathan, who has autism, received Cagney, a black Lab guide dog trained to offer calm whenever Jonathan needed it, whether at home or at school. Each year following our walkathons, the Lions would have announced donation totals for ours and similar fundraisers across the country. The past few years, the national campaign has raised as much as $1.3 million each walkathon, $5-6,000 locally.

Not this year. Bob and Sue Armitage, who’ve organized the Lions Dog Guide campaign locally since the late 1990s, admitted that donations are down as much as 80 per cent since the pandemic.

 

“But it still costs $35,000 to train an individual dog such as Cagney, these days,” the Armitages pointed out.

This Sunday, May 30th, none of the diehard participants in the Lions Dog Guides walkathon can gather at the fairgrounds as we have for 20 years. But to help illustrate the value of the program, a handful of us, including Jonathan and Cagney, his guide dog, got together for a socially distanced public service photograph in the park.

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It was a bittersweet moment. We can’t walk our dogs together on Uxbridge streets nor raise necessary funds the traditional way. On the other hand, we learned how Cagney’s presence in Jonathan’s life has made a difference.

 

“My grades (at Durham College) have been in the 80s this year,” Jonathan said, “and I received the best arts and culture story award.”

 

The benefits of charitable donation – giving a young man a chance at a writing career via Dog Guides www.walkfordogguides.com

 

If you haven’t donated to this Walk for Dog Guides before, do it now.

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