Meet Ollie, a nine-year-old boy with sight loss who graduated in April with his buddy dog, Hope, as part of our CNIB Guide Dogs’ class of 2021. Ollie was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer when he was seven and lost his sight when the lymphoma relapsed in his brain and affected his optic nerves. Since they were matched in March, Hope has provided tremendous comfort to Ollie during his rough days, and encouraged him to play and go for walks during his good days. Ollie’s mum remarked that when Hope came to live with them, Ollie no longer needed his mum or dad to sleep in his room as he used to wake up in the night afraid of the darkness. Snuggling Hope, Ollie has been sleeping through the nights.
Ollie has a compromised immune system, and to keep him safe during the pandemic, he has not been able to spend time with friends. But that changed when Ollie arrived at CNIB Lake Joe with his sister and parents as part of Holiday Week, a new offering at CNIB Lake Joe. Ollie met Mason, an 11-year-old boy, and as Ollie’s mum puts it, “The two became fast friends, inspiring each other to try new things.” When Mason told Ollie he was going to try kayaking all by himself – without a parent, Ollie wanted to try, too.
Blind since birth, Mason has been to CNIB Lake Joe before and has been showing Ollie the ropes all week. Together, the boys have tried archery, rock-climbing and tandem biking.
Ollie’s mum says she is watching her little boy become more independent since they’ve arrived at camp. The boys are already talking about meeting up again next summer at CNIB Lake Joe, with their buddy dogs, Hope and Queenie.