White Cane Walk helps raise awareness for Akron's blind

Last Saturday, the Akron Blind Center hosted their Annual White Cane Walk at Grace Park, located on Perkins Street.

This was a fundraiser for the Akron Blind Center to heighten awareness for what it is like to walk in a blind person’s shoes, Chairman of the Akron Blind Center Board, Tom Musarra, said.

The day began with an orientation speech given by the honorary chairman, Russell Pry, Summit County Executive.

Pry walked with a service dog, and along with about 40 other people who participated, was blind folded, and walked the quarter mile route around the park.

This experience was a challenge, and your hearing got more acute to following the pavement. Having the service dog made a big difference for my sense of direction, Pry said.

Partners, such as those from Delta Gamma sorority, Inc., were encouraged to walk alongside the blindfolded person and then switch to feel the same experience as the blindfolded.

Lauren Welsh, President of Delta Gamma sorority, Inc. said, It was very exciting to see how many people came out. We do a lot of service hours with The Akron Blind Center because we stand for Service for Sight.

During the day, Judy Harpley, orientation and mobility specialist, and independent contractor for the Bureau of Services for the Visually Impaired, gave three reasons why someone will use a white cane:

The Akron Blind Center is a non-profit organization committed to serving the visually impaired of Summit County.

In October of 2008, the Akron Blind Center ceased their services and operations due to increasing costs and the inability to maintain those costs.

The center officially reopened as a support and social center for the visually impaired community.

Classes are offered on a daily basis in areas such as Braille, Computer Skills, History, Health and Wellness, Travel, Exercise, Knitting, Bible Study, Book Clubs, and a variety of craft sessions.

Alex Swift, a graduate of UA, attended the walk Saturday. He says that he was not born blind. He was diagnosed with glaucoma which caused him to become blind.

When I woke up and couldn’t see anything, it felt like my world was coming to an end. I couldn’t do the things I normally could have done. Swift said, After going to the Akron Blind Center about 3 or 4 times a week, I am now able to be independent again, I can catch the bus, and even walk around by myself without feeling afraid.

The center is operated by donations from individuals and the business community and is always open to more sponsors and volunteers.

Information on how to donate or volunteer is available at the center, 325 East Market Street, or by calling 330-253-2555.