White Cane Awareness Walk
Augusta Paws and Canes Event
Saturday, October 18, 2014
The chilly morning wind took my breath away as I stepped out of the car on Western Ave. The morning seemed gray, and cold, and if but only for a moment, a slight hint of winter crept in and inconspicuously worked its way down through my unsuspecting billy goat bones. I couldn’t believe it had been a whole year already. I couldn’t believe another walk event was staring me right in the face. I couldn’t believe how fast the time had gone by, and as my cane snapped to attention and the tip touched the ground, I remembered exactly how I had felt the year before. I remembered the nervousness, the electricity, the amazing feeling of being part of something so important, so special, so much bigger than I. So many different emotions grabbed hold of me as I straightened up and took a deep breath. There was a definite full blown feeling of fall in the air, and with it, October 18th grabbed hold of the day and stared it square in the eye.
Another white cane and guide dog awareness event was at the doorstep, waiting patiently for the participants to bravely and proudly show their stuff. It’s what mobility is all about. It’s what independence is made for. It’s what helps me distinguish who I am now, compared to who I never dreamed of being. It’s true inspiration, wrapped around a purpose unlike anything I have ever done before. Its one day a year when friends, family and loved ones gather together throughout the great State of Maine, and across this great nation to serve as carriers of the torch that shines brightly upon the blind and visually impaired community.
The morning’s events started with an amazing assortment of hot coffee, hot chocolate, donuts, muffins and the most incredible cinnamon buns generously provided by Karen McGilvery of nearby Tim Horton’s on Western Ave. She delivered the tasty morning delectable’s next door to Damon’s Sandwich Shop, also on Western Ave. Doug, the owner of Damons had graciously allowed the collection of paws, canes and all those in attendance to hold the morning’s precessions inside the popular eatery on Western Avenue.
I was glad when I herd of the distance that the long portion of the walk was scheduled for, because I really needed to work off all the pastries and coffee I wolfed down.
As similar events of the past had transpired, there was a ceremonial presentation brought forth to the participants by Pine Tree Guide Dog’s Pauline Lamontagne, Lynn Merrill, Cheryl Peabody and Bruce Prindle. Along with Dr. John McMahon and the honorable Mayor of Augusta, Mark O’Brien, the morning’s recognition of the special event took on a feeling that mimicked events of the past. Mayor Mark O’Brien read the city’s Mayoral and Governor’s Proclamations, and Bruce Prindle read the official White House Proclamation.
Shortly thereafter, the annual walk ensued with the dozen or so participants making their way down Western Avenue. Shortly after the walk began, the sun came out, the chatter briskly livened up and before long, the turns were made as the canes and paws made their way back towards Damons.
Personally, I noticed that the traffic on Western Avenue seemed much heavier than the previous two years on the eastern side of the river. The semi trucks were rolling heavy, the planes taking off just overhead felt as if they were trying to land on my shoulders, and still, the electricity among the walkers never let up. It was a grand old morning, full of every ounce of determination and bravery that has inspired so much of what this day has become to so many.
With the late morning sun at our backs, and our eyes on the prize, we made our way back up Western Ave, and by the time we arrived again at Damons, the temperature had risen twenty degrees. It was a perfect ending to the White Cane Awareness Event of 2014.
I would like to thank Pine Tree Guide Dog Users of Maine, Tim Horton’s, Damons and all those who attended this memorable morning. This was my fourth walk in as many years, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s White Cane event. As time goes by, I am in ever increasing awe of the blind community of Maine. From you all, I have gained hope, inspiration, strength, friendship, trust and love. If I live long enough to pay any portion of what I have received back, then I will be wearing a smile bigger than the one I wore on this year’s morning of October 18th.
Until next year, when we walk again, I bid you all a wonderful year full of those memories that last.
Best to you all.