(aka) Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind Inc
371 East Jericho Turnpike
Smithtown, NY 11787
In 2008, 24-year-old Matt Sherwood’s life seemed to be going to plan: His career was taking off, and he got married in August. But four days after his wedding, Matt noticed that anywhere he looked, there was a white dot in the center of his vision.
Unsure of what to do, he followed his normal routine, but over the next few days, the bright white dot got progressively bigger and obscured even more of his vision. Finally, he sought out an ophthalmologist, who ran tests and delivered the bad news: Matt was blind, legally blind, and there was nothing he could do about it.
With the positive attitude and determination that had informed his life until then, Matt did not dwell on his “loss,” but focused on the challenges he could overcome. He used assistive technology to help him do his job as a financial adviser, and he underwent orientation and mobility training. He learned to use a white safety cane to help him navigate his world.
But it wasn’t perfect. Run-ins with overhanging signs or telephone poles left him bruised and bleeding. Finally, Matt decided it was time for a guide dog. Because he lived locally, the Guide Dog Foundation was able to offer Matt the opportunity to walk with a trainer and a future guide dog.
“It blew me away,” he says. “I was nervous that a guide dog would slow me down because I walk fast.” It was just the opposite. His guide dog “navigates through crowds like a running back.” In fact, in areas that used to make Matt anxious, “It’s a breeze now. I hold onto the harness and trust him.”