Meet Vanessa and guide dog Bud

[Click here for the video audio description for our community with vision loss.]

Vanessa Coleman & guide dog Bud

Lakeland, Florida

A young lady sits on dark marble stairs with a black and tan Labrador sitting next to her.

Vanessa sits on a set of stairs with Bud at her side.

Raised by a single mom, Vanessa Coleman recalls her granddad taking her to the appointment with a retina specialist where she was diagnosed with a form of juvenile macular degeneration that causes progressive vision loss.

“When we got the diagnosis, my granddad said to me, ‘We’re going to have fun with this,’” Vanessa says. “Then he told me, ‘You’re going to see the world.’” So far, Vanessa has seen 26 of the 50 United States with her family, and as a top athlete and member of the USA Women’s Goalball team, she’s traveled throughout Europe. Goalball is played by athletes with vision loss who wear blackout goggles and score goals using a ball with bells inside.

Now Bud, a black and tan Lab and her first guide dog, will make traveling easier. “Bud is sassy, just like me,” Vanessa jokes. But things haven’t been easy for this young athlete who experiences nightmares every night. “It’s really sad that I can travel the world with my teammates, but when I’m by myself, the anxiety is there. I don’t want to trip over something and get hurt,” she says. Ever since Bud started sleeping beside her, Vanessa’s nightmares have vanished. “Bud paws at me on my second alarm to say, ‘Let’s go!’ I’m excited to go everywhere with him. Bud does something for me that medicine couldn’t fix.”

Bud is sponsored by the Bradenton Superheroes Walkathon team and named in loving memory of Anne Brown’s beloved husband Lloyd Brown, whose drink of choice was Budweiser, or Bud for short.

Do you know someone like Vanessa that could use a guide dog? Encourage them to apply today.

Posted on October 18, 2018 | Category: Blog