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Guiding Eyes changes lives for the blind and builds bonds for its animal trainers

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“I had sight up until, between 19 and 20 is when I lost my sight,” Adam Gleason said.

Adam Gleason's world went dark when Lyme disease caused him to go blind.

“I went through all the emotions," he remembered. "Then, I just decided, you know I’ve got to move on.”

This social worker, used to spending his days helping others, is now getting some help himself from a four-legged partner.

“With Art I feel like it’s just a different level of comfort," he explained. “I remember at first thinking, Art? Like what, that’s an old man’s name you know,” he laughed.

His life immediately transformed.

“It’s just been an improvement on avoiding some of the obstacles, the speed and and I think just the lifestyle, just to feel like you have a companion,” he said.

From day one, they've done everything together.

Play music, go hiking, watch baseball, and even walk down the aisle.

“I’m a year and a half in, I feel like it’s just been getting stronger in terms of the connection,” Adam said.

All made possible because of one special person.

“You always wonder if they’re gonna remember you,” Jennifer Heinemann said.

Jennifer Heinemann works as a puppy raiser for Guiding Eyes, a nonprofit that trains and provides service animals for the blind and autistic.

“Our main role is to raise the puppy from about two months to 16 months,” she explained.

A bond that becomes very difficult to break.

“Once you meet the person that's going to your dog's forever every tear that you cry, every moment of sadness that it takes to give up the dog is completely and totally worth it," she smiled.

Jennifer and Adam stay in touch through social media though, so she's seen their journey unfold.

“He’s an inspiration to me," she said. "I think he’s an amazing person, I’m so happy Art gets to be his best friend.”

And Adam wants to give thanks to Jennifer and Guiding Eyes for helping him through the biggest challenges of his life.

“They are just a phenomenal school and it’s been a great experience,” he said. "It’s definitely been life altering.”

 

Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi