Blind fire walk for Guide Dogs!

I completed a sponsored fire walk for Guide Dogs… Twice!

 

When my mum and sister describe the size of the flames to me as we arrived at the Guide Dogs Liverpool training centre yesterday morning, they both had some trepidation in their voices. It still didn’t feel very real to me though. I could vaguely smell the fire but I couldn’t hear it or feel the heat so it still felt distant.

 

Whenever anyone had asked me if I felt nervous about the fire walk during this past week I had answered no, because honestly I wasn’t. I was more focused on fundraising than what I would be actually doing at the end of it. Admittedly, all of my fundraising was done online. But I was determined to reach my target and probably annoyed all of my Facebook Friends to death with my repeated posts about my crazy stunt.

 

It wasn’t until I was sat in the middle of the health and safety briefing that it really started to hit home what I was about to do. The fire was blazing outside and the instructor told us that the optimum heat for firewalking is 400°C. He explained that we would in fact be walking over the hot embers of the fire and that as long as we walked normally and at a good pace, it would be extremely safe. Still, this is when it finally started to feel real to me and I suddenly became very, very nervous.

 

There was a group of around 15 fire walkers in all, only myself and another lady were visually impaired so we waited at the back of the line to be guided safely by the instructors over the walkway. I was glad for this. The instructor counted the paces of the person firewalking, which usually was between three and six steps, so I could gauge the distance of the walkway and how long it took to walk across it.

 

When it finally got to my turn, I was really scared. I stood on the edge of the fire walk, an instructor either side of me holding my hands, and really really wanted to run away. For a second I was really afraid that I would disappoint myself and everyone else by chickening out.

 

I was scared because I was stepping into the unknown. Yes, people had described it to me, I’d heard others do it before me and I had a rough idea of what I was in for. But I’ve never done anything like this before; I had nothing to compare it to so I couldn’t really imagine it. I couldn’t see what was in front of me and I couldn’t picture it in my head. But that’s also what made me do it.

 

The instructor had told us that if we were nervous, to think of the reasons why we were doing the fire walk. So I thought of myself two years ago; how back then I was so afraid of the unknown that I barely left my room. I thought about what a difference having a guide dog has made to my quality of life, my confidence and my independence. I thought about how, with Jazzy with me, I never feel like I’m stepping into the unknown because I don’t feel vulnerable. So that’s why I walked.

 

it was one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done!

 

Strangely it wasn’t that hot. To be fair, it was over so quickly to begin with I barely registered what I’d done until I was safely on the other side with my feet in buckets of cold water. And once I did realise what I’d just done, I got right back in line to do it again!

 

It basically felt like walking over warm soil, until you got right to the end when it started to feel a bit more… burny. I’d expected to be able to feel the heat and smell the burning wood, but honestly I was so focused on walking in a straight line and not dying a fiery death I didn’t stop to smell the embers.

 

I want to say an absolutely gargantuan thank you to everyone who sponsored me to do this ridiculous thing. I set out with a target of £100. I cleared that within 24 hours of setting up my JustGiving page! So I set myself a new target of £500.

 

Having not planned any kind of fundraising events and hoping to rely entirely on the kindness of the people of the Internet, I hoped I could achieve something big and make a notable contribution to the charity that is so close to my heart.

 

After much tweeting, and somewhat desperate Facebook statuses, I did the fire walk having raised a total of £630 on my JustGiving page. This is absolutely phenomenal and I can’t explain how humbled and grateful I am to everyone who read my story and thought it would be worthy enough to warrant their hard earned cash. I promise you, your money is going to a very worthy cause.

 

You can watch me do the first fire walk here

and you can watch me going back a second time, this time being guided by my mum, here.

 

Click here to be taken to my JustGiving page.

 

As ever, thank you for reading 🙂

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#VIPTag

VIP tag
I’ve been tagged to complete the VIP (visually impaired people) tag by a fantastic blogger who I follow diligently. Check out her blog called Thinking Out Loud here: http://www.thinkingoutloud-sassystyle.com/vip-questions-tag/
1. What medical condition caused you to be blind or visually impaired?
Lebers Congenital Amaurosis and Nystagmus
2. In 3 words, describe your vision. 
Confusing, temperamental, unreliable.
3. What is the hardest thing to do being blind OR visually impaired?
Interpreting body language – 90% of human communication is done non-verbally, so not being able to tap into that information can sometimes put me at a disadvantage when meeting people. Not being able to interpret body language and facial expressions can make trying to connect with someone a little awkward in certain situations. 
4. What is the best part about being blind? 
We live in a world and a society that places so much emphasis on the visual that being unable to see can often feel somewhat of a barrier to a lot of different things. However I believe that it’s not so much a barrier as just a block for one particular path. I think that being blind has made me open-minded and able to think outside the box in terms of problem solving to find ways around things that might initially seem impossible to do without sight. I’m forced to think of ways around doing things every day, from reading the instructions on a food packet to finding a specific shop. I think it’s also made me a determined, resilient and ambitious person that I might not be in the same way if I wasn’t visually impaired. 
5. What question do you get asked most about or because of your vision? 
“Are you totally blind?”
I’m registered blind and can see very little, but the light perception and tiny bit of peripheral vision I have comes in really useful sometimes – I try to use it to the max. I think this makes it confusing for people though because sometimes it’ll seem like I can see something and other times I won’t, so most often I get questions about what I exactly can and can’t see.
6. Do you have a cane, a guide dog, or neither? 
I have a guide dog, a 2 year old black Labrador/retriever called Jazzy. I also have a cane for non-dog-friendly situations
7. What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is losing, going to lose, or has lost their vision? 
Allow yourself to grieve, but don’t allow yourself to wallow. Of course it’s natural to feel the loss of something as integral as your sight; I think it’s important to let yourself feel the sadness, anger, fear and whatever else comes with it so that you can work through these feelings in a healthy way. But once you’ve dealt with the grief, don’t let your loss take over your life. Losing your sight can feel like the end of the world, but it’s really not. It just means that it’s the start of a new chapter in your life, a chapter that will make you stronger, more resilient and a boss at problem solving like I mentioned above 😉
8. What is one piece of advice you would give to a sighted person about interacting with a person who is blind or visually impaired? 
Never assume, always ask:

Uncertain whether a VI person needs help to cross the road? Don’t assume they want you to grab their arm and escort them across, ask if they’d like your help. If they accept, feel good that you assisted someone who needed your help. If they decline, respect their answer and feel content that you offered. 

Assumptions can often do more damage than good because your assumption is rarely accurate. This is especially true of visual impairment which is an umbrella term for a huge spectrum of conditions and abilities, not to mention the vast variety of ways that people deal with their visual impairment. Even people with the same conditions can have different levels of useful sight and can have different ways of dealing with their impairment. No two people are the same, even blind people. 
When you ASSUME, you make an ASS out of U and ME.
9. Why did you join YouTube/ Blogging?
I created this blog because I wanted to show people that it’s perfectly possible to lead a normal life despite not having much sight. The fear of the unknown often means that people can’t imagine doing barely anything without being able to see; that’s just not true and in my blog I try to demonstrate that.
10. Name 3 people to do this tag next.
I’m tagging three visually impaired bloggers who I follow and admire. Check them out via the links below.
Fashioneyesta – http://fashioneyesta.com/

Where’s Your Dog – https://wheresyourdog.wordpress.com/

Life Unscripted – https://blindbeader.wordpress.com/
Thanks for reading and if you’re visually impaired why not get involved and post your own VIP Tag!