A double congratulations to Scott Cunningham and his amazing guide dog Travis….not only are this indomitable duo our July Fundraisers of the Month, but the Institute of Fundraising has just named them their 2010 Volunteer Fundraiser(s) of the Year. In fact, they’ve made plenty of headlines (including BBC) over the years. And for good reason. If you ever needed proof that giving fosters giving, these two are it.
In 1993, Scott Cunningham was a forklift driver for Royal Mail until, over just 3 weeks, he lost his eyesight. The cause was a rare condition: Lebers Hereditary Optic Neuropathy.
Scott was “practically housebound” by the diagnosis until he – with the help of his mom – got in touch with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. Guide Dogs is a charity that trains and breeds dogs to bring new freedom of movement to blind and partially sighted people.
With the help of his first dog, Ike (a “Rolls Royce” of a guide dog, says Scott), Scott began getting out of the house more. Then he got himself to college, where he gained computer skills. Then he took a course in business administration. He found a new job. And he started a new, physically demanding hobby: hill-walking.
When it came time for Ike to retire in 2003, Guide Dogs started looking for a dog that could keep pace with Scott’s increasingly active lifestyle. And so Scott met Travis. And that was the beginning of some incredible journeys.
With Travis, Scott decided they could – and would – where no guide dog had gone before. They tackled the famous Scottish West Highland Way, an arduous 7-day trek, and they did it to raise money for Guide Dogs, the charity that Scott says “gave him his life back”.
That was to be but the first. Since then, the Travis Trek has become something of an institution. Joined by famous rugby players and other friends, this indomitable duo have now completed their sixth Travis Trek – a series that’s included the Speyside Way, Southern Upland Way, and Pennine Way – all to raise money for Guide Dogs. You can check out highlights from their journeys on the Travis TV Youtube channel.
This pair aren’t stopping there. Scott’s signed on with a ski group called the Guide Dogs Adventure Groups, helping visually impaired skiiers get on the slopes. He and his friends started online charity auctions. This September, they’re hosting the inaugural Travis Trek Gala Ball in Glasgow. (We hear it’s selling out quickly, but email email@example.com for ticket info.)
Through all of this, Scott and Travis have together raised an incredible £85,000 for Guide Dogs. This has enabled the charity to completely train nine new guide dog puppies – who will go on to help new owners go new distances too.
Scott and Travis aim to raise over £100,000 for Guide Dogs…and they can use your help getting there. Check out their Travis TV and make sure you visit their latest JustGiving fundraising page too. As Scott and Travis go to show, every little bit you give to Guide Dogs – and to every charity on JustGiving – can go lengths further than you think.