Climbing for guide dogs

Blind woman to scale Kilimanjaro for Guide Dog mission

CLIMBING Africa's tallest peak will be a "mental, physical and sensory" challenge for Pittsworth woman Lisa McEwan, but one she hopes will help others overcome theirs.

Mrs McEwan was born with sclerocornea, a rare eye condition which renders her legally blind.

With three to five per cent vision, she uses a white cane to navigate.

In September, she will join a Guide Dogs Queensland team, travelling to Tanzania to summit Mount Kilimanjaro.

Together, the group is aiming to raise $100,000 to cover the costs of breeding, raising, and training two guide dogs for Queenslanders with low or no vision.

"I've always been on the adventurous side, and I love to travel," Mrs McEwan said.

"This sounded like an awesome opportunity with a cause that was close to my heart.

"I was over the moon when I found out my application had been successful."

Her trip will be covered by the Guide Dogs Queensland Experience 2020 Client Bursary.

With her spot in the team secured, preparations have begun.

"My sight might make it a little more challenging in terms of the terrain and the fatigue, because I do use the little vision I have," she said.

"But what I might miss out on with the view, I will pick up with the singing of the porters, the taste of the food after hiking for 15 hours or the feeling of being in an open space.

"I don't think it takes away from the experience, I think you just appreciate different aspects."

The climb will take seven days to reach the summit, which is 5895 metres above sea level.

"I really want to challenge the stereotypes surrounding what people with disabilities can achieve," she said.

"I want to change the public perception that being born blind means you're sentenced to a boring life.

"It's not that I see myself as someone special, to me I am just a normal person living a normal life, with some extra challenges."

Guide Dogs Queensland chief executive officer Michael Kightley said he was overwhelmed by Lisa's passion to help others.

"More than 90 per cent of the funding we receive comes from generous community donations, so it is even more special that Lisa is wanting to help raise some of these funds to help more people maintain or regain their independence and freedom," Mr Kightley said.

"It costs $50,000 to breed, raise, and train a Guide Dog.

"But, for the person who is then matched with this life-changing Guide Dog, the impact is truly priceless."

Mrs McEwan launched her fundraising effort for the trip last week and has already raised $2500 of her $10,000 target.

Elders Real Estate Toowoomba has also offered her corporate sponsorship for the climb.

To donate to her cause, please click here.

You can also find her on Facebook at Eye Am Able by Lisa McEwan.




Originally published as Blind woman to scale Kilimanjaro for Guide Dog mission