For the first time, Emily Cruden, 19, has decided to participate in the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival in September. Emily, who is currently studying Business Admin at TAFE, was born with a rare genetic disorder that includes an eye condition named Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP).
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has provided Emily with Orientation and Mobility services since she was a young child, which has included training on public transport and orientation training around her community and school.
“RP means I have no peripheral vision, only slight central vision and night blindness. Guide Dogs have provided me with a long cane and training to aid me in getting around safely and independently,” Emily said.
After participating in a Guide Dog ‘test drive’ last month, Emily said she may be interested in possibly getting a Guide Dog one day.
“I’ve never been a runner but I’m really enjoying it. I’m training every week in preparation with the help of my former high school teacher Michelle Teys and also going to the gym,” Emily said.
To train, Emily runs tethered to Michelle, who was her Learning Support Teacher when she attended St Leo’s College in Wahronga.
“I’m so proud of Emily. I’ve known her since before she began at St Leo’s and I’ve been her support person on school camps, excursions and in the classroom. I’ve seen her grow into a strong, resilient and courageous young woman,” Michelle said.
“She’s developed this real sense of adventure and confidence which will take her so far, regardless of the challenges she might face because of her disability.”
For the Blackmores Sydney Running Festival, Emily has decided to fundraise for Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.
“I’m fundraising for Guide Dogs as a way of saying thank you for all the help and support they’ve given me over the years,” Emily said.
So far, Emily has raised over $700 for Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and is currently the leading fundraiser in the team. The team aims to raise $35,000 to help sponsor a Guide Dog puppy.