PINEHURST, N.C. (WNCN) — Many blind people in our country get through life by using a cane and a select few get the companionship of a guide dog to help them navigate life, but very few children get that opportunity.
MIRA USA is one of the only charities to provide guide and service dogs to blind and disabled children across the United States.
CBS 17 selected MIRA Foundation USA as it’s 3 Degree Guarantee charity for September 2019.
MIRA USA was founded in 2009, but the parent organization, MIRA Canada was founded in 1981. It was the only school in the world that instructed children in the use of guide dogs, and it can change their lives.
One of the lives MIRA changed was Darcie Crane. She lost her sight when she was in kindergarten and after using a cane for a while, she learned about and contacted MIRA while in middle school. Darcie was soon accepted into the program.
In order to get her guide dog, she had to travel to Montreal, Canada where most everybody, including the dogs, spoke French. Crane spent four weeks learning some French commands and learning how to use and live with her new guide dog.
Guide dogs begin training when they are about a year old and continue it for 12 months at the MIRA headquarters in Canada. It costs MIRA about $30,000 to raise and train a guide dog. Total costs to pair a child with a MIRA guide dog and provide follow-up service for the working life of the guide dog team can reach $60,000.
Crane has been with her dog Dodger during her time at North Carolina State University and will graduate with her degree in December.
MIRA USA is the first and only organization serving the United States whose purpose is to provide fully trained guide dogs, free of charge to blind American children ages 11 through 16 and it can change their lives. The U.S. organization is based in Pinehurst.
Guide dogs usually provide seven to eight years of working service before they retire around the age of 10. Retired guide dogs usually live with a near-by family member so the student can visit them.
MIRA USA is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary and has placed 28 guide dogs in 10 states.
Every month CBS 17 picks a different local charity to raise money and awareness for during the daily 3-Degree Guarantee. Each day when the CBS 17 Storm Team gets the next day’s forecast correct within three degrees, CBS 17 and Allen Kelly & Company Air Conditioning & Heating donate $100 to a charity. At the end of the month, all the money raised is totaled and presented to that month’s group.
If you would like to learn more about MIRA U.S.A., please check out their website here.