Meet our newly-elected officers, Tweetie ford (First vice President), Brianna Murray (Second Vice President), Audrey Gunter (President) and Laurel Jean Walden (Secretary/Treasurer).
Tweetie with her guide Yvonne, is a native Charlestonian, a graduate of North Charleston High School, the University of South Carolina and the Medical University of South Carolina. In addition to her work in the medical field, Tweetie served actively as a church musician until health issues forced her to retire. She lost her sight later in life due to complications brought on by a stroke, and was matched with her first guide dog, Heidi in 2004. Heidi tragically passed away suddenly and Tweetie was matched with her second guide Yvonne in 2010. Tweetie and Horace, her husband of 42 years, served actively within the blindness community here in Charleston until Horace passed away in 2012. A devout Christian, Tweetie continues to serve her God and her community.
Brianna has been a friend of Dixie Land GDU, long before she was matched with her guide Lacy in 2011. We especially appreciate her expertise when it comes to learning new computer and cell phone technology. As of this writing, Brianna is the only blind student to be accepted to the Charleston School of the Arts, where she graduated with honors as a violin major. She is currently a junior at Winthrop in Rock Hill, SC, pursuing a major in psychology and a minor in English.
Also a native of Charleston, Audrey Gunter, pictured here with her current guide Jessie, was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa and declared legally blind at age nineteen. She was told to get herself a cup and some pencils because she had nothing else to look forward to. Audrey received her ABA with honors in 1975. She retired in 2001 as the Director of the MUSC Department of Transportation. A pillar of the blindness community, Audrey is a Past President of both the Lowcountry Chapter and the State American Council of the Blind in South Carolina. She has served on the Board of Directors of the South Carolina Disability Resources Center, the Board of Directors of Guide Dog Users, Inc. and the Board Graduate Committee of Southeastern Guide Dog School (where she was matched with her first guide Zack and her current guide Jessie). Her book "Zack's Tales, Travels of a Guide Dog" can be purchased here. She founded the Southeast Regional Top Dog Workshop in 2006. In 2011, she was commissioned as a Stephen Minister at Grace United Methodist Church in Charleston, where she currently serves as an active member.
Although Laurel Jean is an avid cane user and takes pride in honing her skills with the long, white cane, she wholeheartedly supports those who choose to use a guide dog as their means to personal mobility and independence. In addition to taking care of the administrative duties for our organization, Laurel brings to the team her knowledge of Braille, technology, independent travel, and her life experience of twenty-five years in professional music ministry. Laurel has been blind since birth, and has a special enthusiasm for reaching out to blind youth. Her latest CD, “Celebrate With Laurel Jean,” featres a special tribute to guide dogs and their handlers, “The Blessing of Your Love,” which was debuted earlier this year at Top Dog, Savannah. You can hear samples and purchase the CD, here.
We invite you to check back regularly to learn more about the Dixie Land Guide Team, our membership and activities. Thanks for your ongoing prayers and support!