Announcing Top Dog, 2017!

Our friends with Guide Dog Users of Florida are excited to announce program details and registration info for Top Dog 2017! The event will take place January 13 thru January 15, 2017, at the Holiday Inn and Suites, across from Universal, in Orlando, FL.

Scroll down to read the latest update from the Top Dog-2017 team! Hope to see you there!

Contact the Dixie Land Guide Team!

Contact the Dixie Land Guide Team!
Dixie Land GDU, Inc., 1608 Acacia St., Charleston, SC 29407 (843) 571-0737

We provide education for the sighted community and peer mentoring with advocacy for the blindness community (guide dog, cane and sighted guide users alike), while promoting one community at large.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sharing Christmas Joy!



Taylor stands at the altar of Grace Church, where shoeboxes full of goodies have been collected and blessed for Operation Christmas Child.

Last July, Dixie Land Guide Dog Users was honored to help sponsor the Camp Lakewood Vacation Bible School for Blind Youth, a production of Music By Laurel Jean. Youth attending had the opportunity to earn money toward a Walmart shopping trip to purchase items for their very own shoebox contributions to Samaritan’s Purse.

Saturday, November 14 marked a special Camp Lakewood reunion, held at Grace United Methodist Church. On this day, the Camp Lakewood Class of two youths was greeted by Miss Susan, another sighted angel volunteer, who led us in a time of sharing and fellowship as we decorated and stuffed a total of six shoeboxes!

On Sunday, November 22, Taylor represented Camp Lakewood at Grace UMC in the 11:00 AM service. During the Blessing of Shoeboxes, he was recognized and asked to come forward, placing one of his shoebox contributions on the altar with the others from Camp Lakewood and from the congregation (84 boxes in all).

Our thanks to all who have helped make Camp Lakewood Possible, as we continue to teach our blind youth the importance of giving back to our community and remembering those less fortunate around the world.

Celebrating White Cane Day



Our president, Nancy More, joins one of Charleston’s blind youth in taking a hands-on look at our country’s flag. October 15, 2009 marked the first time that many area blind and visually impaired folks had ever really “seen” the American Flag, one of many exhibits featured at a special celebration of White Cane Day, 2009 in Charleston, SC.

October 15th is recognized internationally as White Cane Safety Awareness Day. This day is set aside to recognize the white cane and to teach sighted people about the purpose and use of the white cane by the blind.

Dixie Land Guide Dog Users proudly assisted in hosting this White Cane Day celebration, with Laurel Jean serving as the event’s Master of Ceremonies. Blind folks of all ages met at the Visitor’s Center on Meeting Street Downtown. After a walk to Francis Marion Square, the program continued with a narrated presentation of The Colors. Elementary and secondary students were awarded for their participation in a story contest featuring the long, white cane. Congratulations to First Place Winner, Brianna Murray, who received a full scholarship to our Top Dog, 2010 as part of her prize package!

Following the Awards Ceremony, God’s “outa sight” kids of all ages offered a variety of musical selections.

After the program, folks were treated to snacks and several different exhibits, including the flag shown above, with raised stars and stripes which could be touched! This exhibit was inspired by Taylor, who took his first “hands-on” look at our country’s flag when last summer’s Camp Lakewood Vacation Bible School for blind youth toured Grace United Methodist Church.

The Color Guard honored the ministry of Music By Laurel Jean, producer of Camp Lakewood, presenting her with this White Cane Day Flag at the conclusion of the day’s festivities.

Our thanks to the Charleston Chapter of the American Council of the Blind for allowing Dixie Land Guide Dog Users to help sponsor White Cane Day, 2009. On this day, we celebrated God’s gifts: not only our independence as blind individuals, but also the freedom that we know as citizens of The United States of America.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Top Dog Goes Whole Hog, from the "Funvention" Director

Dixie Land Guide Dog Users, in partnership with Guide Dog Users of Florida, Carolina Paws and the Charleston Association for the Blind would like to invite you to our next Top Dog-Charleston Funvention, scheduled January 15-17,2010 at the Best Western Inn (250 Spring Street) in beautiful, historic downtown Charleston, SC. Our Dixie Landers have worked extremely hard to make this an action-packed, festive, fun-filled, culinary delightful and totally enjoyable weekend for everyone-blind or sighted, cane or guide dog user! We want to exemplify some of that good ol' southern hospitality you've heard so much about.

The kind folks at the Best Western are offering our guests the incredible low nightly room rate of only $64.99 (plus tax) for the entire week of January 11-18, 2010. They want everyone to come early and stay later. To get that low rate, though, you MUST CALL THE HOTEL DIRECTLY at 843-722-4000. Be sure to tell them you're coming to "Top Dog". The Spring Street Best Western was formerly the Howard Johnson, home of our very first Top Dog. While the building remains the same, the hotel has just undergone a major multi-million dollar renovation and is absolutely beautiful! Some of the helpful staff is still there and they are all anxiously awaiting our return. Most rooms (except Kings) are equipped with microwaves and all have refrigerators. For those who want to stay longer, there is a restaurant located in the hotel and 2 fast-food places (McDonald's & Arby's) in the same block!

The Hospitality Suites are located on the 8th floor and, as always, will offer complimentary snacks and beverages for our registered guests. Located adjacent to one of the Hospitality Suites will be Carla Campbell, who has graciously offered to pamper our furriest with one of her famous pet massages at a discounted price. In addition, the kind folks at Charleston Pet Resort will be available to trim your guide's nails and brush his teeth at no charge.

Dixie Land's President, Nancy Smith Moore, and her new hubby (our First Dude), will greet those of our guests flying into Charleston's airport, where complimentary ground transportation to and from the airport and train station will be available. One of our fantastic volunteers will be waiting at the Best Western to escort you to either the hotel registration desk or our Funvention registration room. If you'd like, someone can also escort you to your room to familiarize you with its layout.

Now, YOU CAN REGISTER ELECTRONICALLY by Email or telephone! Early registration (before 12/15/09) for our Top Dog Funvention is only $60 per person and includes our reception, featuring Mr. Duncan Holmes, and his guide dog, Lucky; the awards ceremony; legendary entertainment; bagged breakfasts on Saturday and Sunday mornings; a delicious bagged lunch Saturday afternoon; an All You Can Eat Barbecue Roundup Saturday evening; written programs (Braille & large print); all scheduled "Play Times" on Saturday; River Walks; tandem bicycle and motorcycle rides; commemorative t-shirts and caps; and more! All registrations paid after 12/15/2009 will increase to $75 per person.

Our programs, or "Play Times" will begin Saturday morning with a Christian "Blessing" or, for those non-Christians, a River Walk along the Ashley River to Brittlebank Park. Afterwards, we hear from Dr. Ruth Roberts, a well-known local vet who specializes in hip displaysia and allergies. Next, we have an interactive panel discussion between some of our blind youth and various "seasoned" cane and guide dog users. We've named this session, "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow" and encourage everyone to attend and participate in the discussions. Our last "Play Time" will touch on "Identity Theft", something very real to everyone!

Following this session we'll break for the delicious lunch prepared by our very own blind caterers, Derrick Middleton and Taffany Bolger.

Our Exhibit Hall will be opened from 2 pm until 5 pm, where you'll meet representatives from some of the nation's best guide dog schools; experience some of the latest access technology; and "see" an assortment of specially prepared jewelry by fellow guide dog user, Jenine Stanley.

Our first bus leaves at 2 pm for an extremely comfortable and informative, unbelievably descriptive tour of downtown Charleston, including a stroll through Battery Point. We invite you to touch the cannons used during the infamous Civil War. Listen and learn as your tour guide takes you through Charleston's colorful history from early settlement to pirates to slave owners to today! Ride through our cobblestone streets past such historic sights as Rainbow Row; the Old Slave Market; The Citadel Military Academy and much, much more. These optional tours are offered by Charleston Tours for only $15 each.

This year's theme is "Top Dog Goes Whole Hawg" and for good reason! Exercise your fork fingers! Loosen up your feeding digits! Lubricate your lips and strengthen your jaw bones! Bessinger's is planning a feast for all of us with an All You Can Eat Barbecue Roundup featuring their award-winning barbecue pork, beef, ribs and chicken. We planned lots for you to do so you can belly up to the trough good and hungry. Just wait until you wrap your lips around some of their mouth-watering meats; lip-smacking hash & rice; delicious baked beans; and cole slaw to die for! Sop up every last smidgen with one of their heavenly rolls; but save room for some of their "slap your mama" good nanner pudding!

Yes, we've anticipated that you'll want to take one of our many tours, so we've planned 2 dinner seatings: early and late to accommodate you.

If you have to leave us Sunday morning, be sure to grab your "to go" bagged breakfast, but, if you can, stick around for a special non-denominational church service.

To learn more about our infamous Top Dog Charleston, you can call us at: 843-608-6890 or shoot us an Email at: dixielandguides@gmail.com
Be sure to check out our new website, too at:
http://dixielandguides.blogspot.com

Y'all come! We'll be looking for you!

Blessings,

Audrey Gunter, Funvention Chairman
Dixie Land Guide Dog Users

Friday, August 21, 2009

Official Announcement, Top Dog Charleston, 2010!

It’s official! Mark your calendar for Top Dog, 2010, January 15-17 in beautiful Charleston, SC! All are welcome!

Come enjoy fun, food, fellowship, legendary entertainment and interesting exhibits (including your opportunity to meet with the nation’s top guide dog schools, all under one roof)!

Early registration (before December 15, 2009) is only $60 per person and includes meals, entertainment, Friday evening’s reception, a commemorative T-shirt and cap, plus lots more! Registration after December 15 is $75 per person.

Best Western (250 Spring St.) is offering us the unbelievable nightly rate of only $64.99 for the entire week of January 11th thru the 18th, for those who would like to enjoy more vacation time here in the “Holy City”. To get this rate, you must call the hotel directly at 843-722-4000 and tell the nice folks at the Best Western that you are going to be part of Top Dog, Charleston!

We’ll be posting updates here on the Blog, so check back often to learn more about this upcoming “Funvention”!

To register, Email the Dixie Land Guide Team. or call us (843) 608-6890, with your answers to the following questions.

1. What is your name?

2. What are your snail mail and Email addresses and the best contact number(s) where you can be reached? When is the best time to call you? (Be sure to include your time zone!)

3. What is your guide’s name, if applicable?

4. What is your T-shirt size?

5. Will you need our complimentary ground transportation from the airport, train or bus station? What is your anticipated date of arrival?

Once we receive your answers to these questions, we will be calling you to confirm and arrange payment for your registration fee.

You may also send your registration in print, Braille or on audiocassette, with a check in the amount of $60 per person registering, made payable to Dixie Land Guide Dog Users, at the following address: Laurel Jean, Program Director, 1407 D Trailmore Dr., Charleston, SC 29407.

We’re looking forward to hearing from y’all!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dixie Land Goes to Camp!

July 27 thru 31, Dixie Land Guide Dog Users partnered with Music By Laurel Jean, along with Lakewood United Methodist Church, Lakewood, IL and Grace United Methodist Church, Charleston, SC to host a day-camp-style Vacation Bible School as part of Laurel Jean’s Children's Chaplaincy for blind youth. This event is called "Camp Lakewood", in honor of the Lakewood, IL UMC which presented Laurel with her first Braille Bible when she was a child, and continues to sponsor her Children’s Chaplaincy.

This VBS was designed especially for blind kids, who seldom have an opportunity to fully participate in church. The theme was "Seeing and Being God's Light". Kids shared music (with brailed lyrics), enjoyed devotions (in Braille and audio formats), acted out interactive Bible stories, went on a couple of outings (including a trip to Grace Church) and did other activities, all designed especially for them!

While the kids learned about God and brushed up on their independent living skills, they also were boosting their self-esteems and having lots of fun!

Scroll down thru the next three posts to view highlights from our participation in this special event!

Dixie Land Talks About Jesus at Camp Lakewood!



Dixie Landers meet Camp Lakewood Day-Campers at the entrance to the Mepkin Abbey Labyrinth!

Dixie Land Guide Dog Users was proud to sponsor and participate in Day three of Camp Lakewood, a field trip day, dedicated to Jesus' birth, earthly ministry and death for our sins. We traveled about fifty miles to the Mepkin Abbey, an area monastery. On the way, we did our Worship singing and discussed the first coming of Jesus into the world. Then, we lightened things up with a game of "Animal, Vegetable, Mineral", which neither of the children had ever played before. Even Great-Grandpa Jerry, who drove, got into the fun of the game!

The monastery features a unique labyrinth (maze) made with very tall grasses. The kids got in some practice with their skills traveling with the long, white cane walking thru the maze! It was wonderful to see the kids' confidence increase as they found their own way. Thirteen-year-old S even used her ears to help her travel. The tall grasses bordering the path thru the maze were full of little crickets. "The crickets are like arrows," she exclaimed excitedly. "They point the way for us!"

After our exercise in the labyrinth, we headed for the gardens, where two sculptures awaited us. During HURRICANE Hugo, many trees fell, including two large oaks on the grounds of the monastery. A man looked at the fallen trees and saw a vision of two Biblical depictions, the escape into Egypt and the Crucifixion of our Lord. He brought his chain saw and created two of the most detailed depictions of these scenes we have ever experienced.

We arrived at the first sculpture. S was asked to read to us from her Braille youth Bible the account of Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus as they escaped from Herod. Then each child was able to feel the life-sized statue depicting this event.

Then, S read again from her Bible the account of the Crucifixion of our Lord. Just as she read that Jesus proclaimed, "It is finished," the chimes at the monastery chapel began to sound. Only God could have orchestrated such timing.

Each of the children felt the crown of thorns on Jesus' head, His face, His beard, the cross and the nails driven into His hands and feet. Then they joined Laurel Jean in singing a chorus of "This Is The Day" and "Alleluia".

We stopped for lunch in Summerville, where the children were allowed to interact independently with our waiter and waitress. We even sang our table prayer in the restaurant! A big thanks to Jerry, Audrey, Zack, Nancy, Luna, Max, Marti and Jackie for all of their help in making this day a success.

Dixie Land Guide Dog Users on Holy Spirit Friday!



Laurel Jean walks with Camp Lakewood Day-Campers inside Grace United Methodist Church.

Dixie Landers were honored to be present as a successful Camp Lakewood drew to a close. The final day was named “Holy Spirit Friday”. We started with Worship, Music and prayer, then we began talking about the Holy Spirit. Laurel Jean told the children about how Jesus sent the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost. We talked about how the Spirit gave courage to the early Christians and still works today in the Church. We talked about how the Holy Spirit can help us in our daily lives and give us courage to witness as Christians.

After preparing the kids for the day, we paid a visit to Grace United Methodist Church, where Pastor Don prayed with the kids and gave them their Certificates of Completion for Camp Lakewood.

Then, John Johnston, another Camp Lakewood “sighted angel” volunteer, spoke with the kids about the layout of the church. They got to feel a stained-glass window, kneel at the communion rail, and walk up to touch the altar. They even joined Laurel Jean in offering a couple of songs to God in the sanctuary.

After our time at church, we went to Wal-Mart, where there is a McDonalds. Each of the children was allowed to order his/her food independently. As we sat down to the table, the restaurant was very noisy. As we sang our table prayer, the room became very quiet and many people bowed their heads to join us in prayer.

For our Holy Spirit project, we asked Miss Marti to help us pick out items appropriate for the Shoebox Ministry of Operation Christmas Child, a ministry very near and dear to her heart. Dixie Land Guide
Dog Users gave each child $20 to spend on items for the shoeboxes. The kids were allowed to find the items independently on the shelves, put them in the shopping buggy, unload the buggy onto the counter and pay for the items.

We got back in time for the kids to play a few more games of Uno. Miss Marti even joined them for a game!

The real joy came when Laurel Jean asked T to lead our closing prayer. During this prayer, his very first, he openly accepted Christ into his heart. We all cried, as T wrapped up his prayer and told God, "I want you to be in my heart forever, in Jesus Name. Amen."

A Walk of Faith Begins



Pictured here are Audrey and Zack, with Laurel Jean, Pastor Don and Taylor immediately after Taylor’s Baptism.

Sunday, August 9, 2009, Dixie Landers were present at Grace United Methodist Church, Charleston, SC; to joyfully witness fifteen-year-old T publicly profess his Christian faith. Pastor Don baptized him during the 11:00 AM service. There was not a dry eye in God’s house as T professed his faith aloud. Even Pastor Don cried along with the rest of us.

The folks at Grace even presented T with a dramatized audio Bible after handing him his Baptism Certificate.

T was put to work right away. He joined Dixie Land President Nancy Moore in assisting Laurel Jean, Audrey and Zack during the Children's Moment, and sang with Laurel Jean during the Offertory, "Open the Eyes of My Heart" ending with a chorus of "Alleluia". He got a
standing ovation.

Dixie Land Guide Dog Users, Inc. takes pride in promoting not only personal independence, but also the One Who gives us true Freedom in Christ Jesus. Please continue to pray for us all as we nurture this beautiful, young Christian in his newfound faith!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Contact Dixie Land Guide Dog Users

Learn more about Dixie Land Guide Dog Users and our upcoming "Paws To Educate" Initiative!

Write to us (in print, Braille or audio)!
Dixie Land guide Dog Users, Inc.
1407 D Trailmore Dr.
Charleston, SC 29407

Call: 843-608-6890 (or) 843-810-3777

 Email the Dixie Land Guide Team.

We're looking forward to hearing from you!

Community Outreach and Events


Pictured here from left to right are Dixie Land Guide Dog Users President Nancy Smith Moore (with guide dog Luna); Laurel Jean (with Slim, her long, white cane) and Immediate Past President Audrey Gunter (with guide dog Zack).

On June 18, Dixie Land Guide Dog Users and “Music By Laurel Jean” appeared at the South Carolina Commission for the Blind Summer Teen Program, held at the Ellen Beach Mack Center for the Blind in Colombia, SC. Eleven teens, along with Commission faculty and staff (both blind and sighted) shared an afternoon of music, entertainment and lively conversation.

We discussed some of the challenges we face as members of the blindness community, and laughed at the silly things that some sighted folks have said to us.

We encouraged the kids to use whatever mobility tool each chooses (a long, white cane; a guide dog; or a sighted “human guide”) competently and confidently. We Dixie Landers believe that the key to educating the sighted community is a more active presence of the blindness community among the community-at-large.

Dixie Land Guide Dog Users believes in independence. For many blind youth, the path to independence includes Braille literacy. To emphasize the importance of Braille literacy, we take pride in once again having sponsored a South Carolina student to participate in this year’s National Braille Challenge. Congratulations, Brianna!

Over the past few weeks, we have been proud to recognize many sighted folks for their efforts on behalf of the blindness community. While some have chosen to remain anonymous, others will be featured as part of our upcoming Top Dog Charleston Funvention in 2010.

Finally, last but not least, special congratulations are in order for our President, Nancy Smith Moore, on her recent marriage to “First Dude” Max. Max and Nancy will be representing Dixie Land Guide Dog Users at this year’s National ACB/GDUI convention in Orlando, FL.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Featured Fundraiser

Two times a year Belk's Department Stores offer the area's various non-profit organizations the unique opportunity to reach, teach and serve their communities while earning lots of money in the process. Belk's Department Stores will hold unprecedented sales on everything in their stores affording the consumer a huge 20% to 50% savings. These Charity Days sales are held before regular store hours (from 6am until 10am) and the only way a customer can enter the store or to participate in and take advantage of the sale is by showing a ticket. This year's sale will be held on Saturday, May 2, 2009. These tickets are sold by the before-mentioned non-profit organizations who, by the way, keep every penny they receive from their sales. The tickets are only $5 each and the customer will receive his/her $5 back when they make their first purchase! What a great way for Belk's to reach out to the community and even a greater way for the various charities to better identify themselves, what they do and how they do it and, at the same time, raise lots of money!

Dixie Land Guide Dog Users has successfully participated in the sale of Belk's Charity Days ticket sales since 2005 and we embrace the opportunity to be a part of this year's event. From the funds thus far raised by these ticket sales Dixie Land has been able to sponsor our annual Southern Regional Top Dog Workshops, originated in Charleston and hosted in 3 other states! This weekend-long event was created in an attempt to educate the sighted community as to the special needs of the blind; to enlighten the blindness community on the various life-enhancing resources available to them; and, simply for everyone to join together in fun and fellowship!

Dixie Land knows the importance knowledge plays in an active community-blind or sighted-and reaches out to everyone by offering special "Sensitivity and Awareness" training to businesses, organizations, schools and various other groups. Such training allows a better understanding of and respect for those of us who must use a trained dog or long white cane for our safe, independent travel. We believe that we, the blind, must make a more active presence in our cities, towns and communities if we hope to be better recognized by the sighted. Therefore, Dixie Land has scheduled a series of programs with the SC Commission for the Blind and the SC School for the Deaf and Blind to inspire, motivate and reassure our blind brothers and sisters statewide.

Dixie Land is actively trying to erase the pitiful image of the blind beggar on the street corner by projecting a positive public image of one who is self-reliant, confident and very competent. Most importantly, Dixie Land Guide Dog Users is compiled of Christians, who show the world that, though some of us cannot see, God continues to use us by shining His light of love to guide others to Him. Indeed, our eyes may be broken, but our spirits are well and thriving!

Each time we get an opportunity to sell a Belk's Charity Days ticket, we are given the chance to witness to someone. Participating in Belk's Charity days allows us to tell the community what we do; educate others on our special needs; raise funds to better educate, motivate and inspire others; and to witness for God!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Free Eye Exams for Registered Guide Dogs.

Thanks to Cornelia Pelzer with the Association for the Blind, for the following information…

The Animal Eye Clinic in Mt. Pleasant, SC is going to hold free exams for registered guide dogs from May 4th - 8th, 2009. The phone number to call to set up an appointment and for more information is 1-843-881-2242. Please pass the word along!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

More About What We Do

Dixie Land Guide Dog Users, Inc., reaches out to our community in an honest effort to help others through education, inspiration and active participation. Our positive, pro-active approach is best exemplified by availing our qualified teams to go into businesses and organizations and offer "Sensitivity & Awareness" training to their members and/or staff. We've found these sessions seem to form a bridge of understanding over a gaping hole of ignorance or misconception. We always try to provide honest, helpful, personable people who can actually relate to the various types of businesses or civic groups. In the past, our efforts have resulted in helping to revise policies and promote positive harmonious relations between the sighted and blindness communities.

Dixie Land was the founder of the Southern Regional Top Dog Workshops, back in January 2006. That event was so very well received that it became an annual event and has been hosted in North Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Dixie Land was proud to host a second Top Dog in Charleston, SC, in 2010. We truly believe the success of having such a weekend-long event is attributed to its affordability, accessibility and availability.

Dixie Land is reaching out to our blindness community by scheduling programs at various schools and campuses around our state to inform as well as motivate our blind brothers and sisters. We believe the key to educating the sighted community is through more blind people using their canes or guide dogs effectively, confidently and competently.

Dixie Land also believes in its youth and has, to date, helped in sending at least one local blind kid to California to participate in the National Braille Challenge. We also support our blind youth by supporting various other activities like Camp Leo (the South Carolina summer camp for blind children sponsored by Lions International) and the recently established Children's Chaplaincy of Music By Laurel Jean.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Introduction

Dixie Land Guide Dog Users Inc. is a 501C3 nonprofit organization in the state of South Carolina. Our membership is comprised mostly of guide dog users who have graduated from a variety of schools including Seeing Eye; Guide Dogs for the Blind; Leader Dog; Guide Dog Foundation; Guiding Eyes for the Blind; Pilot Dogs and South Eastern Guide Dog School. Some of our members and associate members are also sighted puppy raisers; guide dog trainers; owners of retired guide dogs; and even other folks who are blind but prefer to use a cane or a sighted guide rather than a guide dog.

We welcome your questions and comments. Just click on the post which best relates to your question/comment and enter your thoughts. Please visit often, and don’t forget to bring or send a friend!

About Us

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Charleston, SC, United States
Dixie Land Guide Dog Users is the South Carolina Affiliate of Guide Dog Users, Inc., the largest guide dog-related organization In the United States.