At the beginning of the week, most people did not know who Cecil Williams and Orlando were. Then Williams, a 61-year-old blind man, fainted and fell onto the subway tracks in Manhattan. Orlando, his guide dog, began barking to call attention to the situation and then jumped onto the tracks after him. A quick-thinking MTA worker yelled for them to lie in the trench between the rails, and the imperiled pair survived being run over by an A train.
In the days that followed, word spread like wildfire about this amazing act of loyalty. It was also revealed that Williams stands to lose Orlando in January because the aging animal (who is almost 11 years old) will retire from his guiding responsibilities. Williams’ insurance is providing him with a new guide dog, but it will no longer cover the cost of keeping Orlando as well. Williams cannot afford to care for Orlando by himself, and it seemed that the two were likely to be separated.
Since it’s the holiday season and people are in the mood for miracles, not one but two crowd-finding websites have sprung up to support Williams and Orlando. Grant Kirsh was so inspired by Orlando’s selfless act that he started an indiegogo campaign with a goal of $50,000 (which they have already surpassed) and Mark Jacobson set up a gofundme page to do the same.
Having received so many generous donations, Orlando will be taken care of for the rest of his life. Armed with this knowledge, Williams has asked that any further donations to go to Guiding Eyes for the Blind, the team that trained Orlando. What a beautiful reminder that one of the greatest gifts we can give this holiday season is to pay it forward.