Partner In Trust Barry Stone has always loved dogs and has had one in his life since he was 8 years old. He first learned about Guide Dogs of America a little more than 10 years ago when he walked into his local music store. There, near the register, he saw a beautiful dog. As a dog lover, Stone couldn't resist the urge to approach the dog and be playful with him. Soon he learned, from the dog's partner, Nanlyn Bearden, that this was not just any dog - it was her guide dog...her eyes.
After that day, Bearden became Stone's piano teacher, but he has learned so much more than music from her and the three guide dogs she has had from Guide Dogs of America. She has taught him about what it means to be blind and what a difference a guide dog makes in a blind person's life. Early in their friendship, Bearden took him to a GDA Open House, where he marveled over the training that goes into the making of a guide dog and what the dogs do. "I was in absolute awe of everything I saw. The facility. The trainers. And, of course, the dogs."
A few years ago, Stone's vision began to deteriorate as he developed cataracts. "I had failed the test at the DMV. I could see everything, but it was blurry."
Surgery to remove the cataracts was a success, but he recognizes that not everyone has eye problems that a doctor can fix. "For the ones that can't be fixed, they have Guide Dogs of America. I thought there was no way to replace eyesight - but having a guide dog sure would help if you can't," said Stone.
Stone, now 75, has been donating to GDA for more than 10 years, "Whenever I have a little extra money." More recently, he has become a Partner In Trust. His generous gift to GDA will help someone he doesn't know benefit from a guide dog.
"If anybody would lose their eyesight for two days - or just have fuzziness like I did before I had my surgery - they wouldn't have to ask why give to GDA," said Stone.
His chance meeting with Bearden and her guide dog and his ongoing friendship with her has had a profound effect on Stone and his desire to help those like her.
"Obviously, years ago, a caring soul donated so a guide dog was possible for Nanlyn. I want to make a difference for someone and give back in the same way," said Stone.
For information about becoming a Partner in Trust, please contact Rhonda Bissell at 818-833-6432.