The top supporter for a fundraiser for the blind held in Abbotsford last month was not a man who has a personal knowledge of blindness. Rather, Roy James, a member of a Vancouver Lions Club, was inspired to act by deafblind activist and author Helen Keller.
"Long, long ago we were challenged by Helen Keller to be knights of the blind, and we accepted that challenge," said James.
This year, James raised over $7,000 for the CNIB in Abbotsford. CNIB is a non-profit that has been supporting Canadians who are blind or partially sighted since 1918. The organization held its inaugural Night Steps Fraser Valley event, a five kilometre fundraising walk, on Sept. 20, 2013 at Mill Lake. About 170 participants raised over $30,000.
James has been fundraising for CNIB for 27 years. In total, he has pulled in more than $130,000. The non-profit has named James the top fundraiser in Canada for Night Steps.
"Truthfully, I wasn't really expecting any story or to be number one. I never do it for that reason. I just think that being blind would be such a challenge for people and you lose your independence in a lot of ways. I just couldn't picture life without being able to see," he said.
Every time he does the walk, James tries to experience blindness.
"I always put on a blindfold and a cane so I can appreciate how blessed we are when we have our sight," he said. "I had a friend close by, if I run into trouble. Which truthfully I do from time to time. It's not as easy as it looks. Actually, it's not easy at all."
The Vancouver branch of CNIB no longer organizes a Night Steps event, which is why James, a Vancouver resident, participated in the Abbotsford walk.