My Guide Dog Saved My Life
On Tuesday, December 17, 2013, Cecil Williams headed to a dentist appointment with his trusted guide dog, Orlando by his side. Williams had been blind since 1995 and suffered from diabetes. As he waited for a subway on the 145th Street platform in New York City, he began to feel faint. “He tried holding me up,” says Williams, but it was to no avail. Williams tumbled in front of an oncoming train while onlookers watched in horror.
Orlando jumped down onto the tracks, and witnesses state that the dog started barking frantically and licking his owner’s face in an attempt to rouse him. Witnesses called for help as Williams regained consciousness, but an express train was approaching. A Metropolitan Transportation Authority worker told Williams to lie down in the trench between the rails, and then the transit flagman, Larmont Smith began shouting at Williams over the noise of the oncoming rail car. “Put your head down! Put your head down!” he shouted. On the third try, Williams heard him and lowered his head. Orlando lay down nearby.
Remarkably, both Williams and Orlando survived the ordeal, despite the fact that one and a half cars passed over the top of them before the motorman was able to bring the train to a stop. Ana Quinones, in an interview with the New York Post said, “He was definitely this man’s best friend. When the train was coming, the dog didn’t move.”
“Orlando was like my angel. He’s always been that way since I got him. I protect him and he protects me,” said Williams.
Both survived with only minor injuries, but that’s not the end of this heartwarming story. When Williams mentioned to reporters that Orlando was set to retire, and that insurance wouldn’t pay to let him keep Orlando and a new guide dog, generous donors stepped in. Within days, there was enough cash collected to assure that Orlando could retire alongside his master. And there was enough money left over for sizable donations to be made to Guide Dogs For the Blind, the organization had trained Orlando.
“The spirit of goodwill, it exists, you know. In the world you see a lot of negative things, but I try to focus on the positive,” said a tearful Williams, just weeks later, during a graduation ceremony at Guide Dogs for the Blind. That was the day that Godiva, a yellow lab, stepped in as Williams’ new seeing-eye companion, allowing Orlando to retire.
These beautiful examples of generosity–Orlando trying to help Cecil after he had fallen, donors who contributed funds so that Cecil and Orlando could stay together, volunteers who raise and train the puppies that become trained guide dogs, and good Samaritans who donate old cars, cash, time and other means to help fund organizations like Guide Dogs for the Blind are all examples of overwhelming generosity that #LIGHTtheWORLD. Please consider making a contribution so that the generosity can continue.
Photo of Williams and Orlando: GoFundMe.com
Photo of Williams and Godiva: Guiding Eyes for the Blind