On Saturday, the California Council of the Blind is coming to Crescenta Valley Park for the Third Annual Mutt Strut, a 2K/5K run and walk event.
The CCB will be holding three runs simultaneously, one in San Francisco, one in Sacramento and one in La Crescenta.
“We had heard about how great this park and area were,” said Ken Metz, Los Angeles Region chair.
September is National Guide Dog Month, which explains the timing for the Mutt Strut. Several guide dogs will be at the run including puppies that are being trained as guide dogs.
“This is our largest fundraiser,” said Ken’s wife Pam of the Strut.
Everyone is invited to run, sighted or not and with or without a guide dog. The purpose is to have fun and raise money for an organization that for 79 years has been a strong advocate for the blind.
“A lot of our work is [to raise funds] for scholarships for blind students,” Metz said.
The CCB also does advocacy work concerning state and federal laws. For example, the California White Cane law protects blind or partially blind pedestrians who carry a white cane. Those pedestrians have the right-of-way at all times, even if walking against signal lights or not in a cross walk.
CCB is on constant watch for items that can be used to help the blind and any legislation that can help secure their rights.
Additionally, Pam works on the Domestic Violence and Hate Committee.
“I do a lot of work in rehabilitation [centers] for both the blind and visual,” she said.
She and Ken travel the state talking to audiences about the work being done by CCB and the work that needs to be done. Pam said many times the traveling is just a way to speak to people who may not have a lot of contact with the blind.
Ken has been blind all of his life; Pam has been blind for 13 years. She lost her sight after a misdiagnosis and treatment for an eye condition. But this dynamic duo is not bitter for their sight being lost; they are well educated and really enjoy sharing their story with others.
The audiences are interested in what the pair has to say. They reach out at the end of the discussions to ask questions, eager to learn about how the couple lives their lives, said Pam. She said that they are comfortable to talk about the challenges they face and how new technology has helped them do everything from read to answer emails.
“It is better than it used to be,” Ken said.
There is adaptive equipment that can be used with computers allowing the blind to conduct business on the Internet, but a lot of the equipment is expensive.
“A computer for [the sighted] can be $500 to $600, but for us it is an additional $1,500 to $2,000 to have a [program] that talks to us,” Ken said.
That doesn’t include the Braille printer, which can be another $1,500 to $2,000.
There are other technical advances that help the blind enjoy a good book, follow their favorite programs with speaking digital television with audio description and talking ATMs. But with new technology comes new challenges.
Hybrid and smart cars are new on the road, great on gas, help the environment and are very quiet.
“They are really quiet,” Pam agreed.
That makes it difficult for a blind person who is ready to step into the street to know if a car is coming. But the Metzes are confident that eventually there will be something that will be designed to help the blind detect these new quiet cars.
Whatever is invented will be wonderful yet expensive, which is why the Mutt Strut fundraiser is so important for CCB.
The organization provides support to students so they can get the equipment they need for school, as well as counseling and training on new technology. And that is just a few of the ways CCB helps the blind community.
Everyone is invited to run/walk or just come out and support the participants at CV Park, 3901 Dunsmore Ave. on Saturday morning with registration beginning at 8 a.m. Registration is $30 per adult, $10 for kids 5 to 11 years old and those under 6 are free.
Volunteers from Crescenta Valley High School and Prom Plus Club will be on hand. The CVHS band will be playing at the event as well.
For more information, visit www.CCBnet.org/MuttStrut or call (800) 221-6359.