After losing vision, Moore County man becomes advocate for blind children
Posted October 25, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Six years after losing his eyesight during bypass surgery, retired Moore County dentist Bob Baillie has become a powerful advocate for children wanting to keep their freedom despite not having their vision.
Baillie's crusade started not long after he was paired with a guide dog from the Canada-based MIRA Foundation. Baillie's dog helped him beat the depression that lingered for two years after the surgery and regain much of the lifestyle he lost after going blind.
"They accidentally cut an artery, and I lost blood flow to my eyes," Baillie said. "When I woke up a couple of weeks later, the lights were out. They stayed out."
As he continued to regain freedom with the help of his dog, Baillie learned that the MIRA Foundation was the only North American group that provided service animals to blind children – there wasn't a similar organization in the United States.
In 2009, Baillie and his wife founded MIRA Foundation USA. Seventeen children have received dogs through the organization so far, and some of them were present Thursday at a special fundraiser held in Raleigh.
"I can't imagine life without him even though I spent most of my life without him," 17-year-old Darcie Crane said of her dog Navy. Moore County man works to get blind children guide dogs
Crane, a junior at Athens Drive who lost her vision at age 5, said the dog has helped her become her own person.
"He gives me so much confidence, and it is so much better," Crane said. "It is kind of a team effort, and I do trust him."
Those in attendance at Thursday's fundraiser ate dinner blindfolded, getting just a temporary view of what young people helped by MIRA USA experience each day.
Baillie said the foundation that served as his "salvation" has now become his life's work.
"I can see these kids. I can see these kids in my mind and they blossom," he said. "They just blossom."