Meredith Landreth was a happy-go-lucky 7 year old when her mother first noticed something wasn’t right.
The little girl began asking her mother, Melanie, what color each crayon was while she was playing.
Meredith was diagnosed with Rod-Cone Dystrophy about two and a half years ago. Still, the now 10 year old hasn’t lost her upbeat, positive attitude. The rod and cone cells in the back of her eyes are dying. They were told Meredith would likely keep her eye sight until middle age.
She lost the remainder of her sight within three years. She can see light, but it’s still a struggle.
“She never complains about it,” Meredith’s father, Buddy, said.
“She (Meredith) has the best little attitude,” Melanie said. “She’s had a lot thrown at her in the last three years.”
And while there’s no cure for Meredith’s condition, her parents want to make things easier for her. Meredith was having a hard time using her cane. That’s when Melanie found MIRA USA out of Southern Pines.
Robert Ballie along with his wife, Elaine, and Guy Bouvier founded the organization in 2008 after Bob became totally blind. The organization’s purpose is to provide guide dogs to youth, ages 11 to 17, free of charge.
MIRA began as a Canadian organization, founded by Eric St. Pierre in 1981. The organization’s name comes from the Spanish word “look” or “to have one’s sights set on.” It also was the name of a favorite guide dog trained by St. Pierre. In the late 2000s, MIRA USA became its own independent organization with close ties to its Canadian counterpart.
The American organization chose Meredith as one of five youth that will receive a guide dog this summer. Meredith will be the youngest recipient in the United States.
“This dog will open up doors for her (Meredith),” Buddy said. “It’s just amazing what that dog will do.”
“I know it’s going to change her life,” Melanie said.
In July, Meredith and Melanie will travel to Canada for a month with the other recipients where the young people will learn to work with their dogs. While Melanie cannot talk with her daughter throughout the process, she can watch from afar and see the training process. The training lasts from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week for the month.
By the third day of the month, Meredith will be paired up with her new partner. And Meredith couldn’t be more excited.
“She is very, very excited,” Melanie said of Meredith. “We have never had dogs. It’s going to be a life changer, but anything for her.”
The Laberneise dog is a cross between a Labrador and Mountain Bernese.
The dog will have an American name as well as a French name. And all of the commands will be in French. Meredith will be the only person to talk to the dog in French. Others will use the American name.
Golden Corral donated $60,000 to MIRA USA to pay for the dog. As the sponsor of the guide dog, the company will give Meredith’s dog its American name.
“The best thing is that the Lord would heal her, or that medical science would find a cure,” Melanie said of her daughter. “Until then, this is the next best thing.
“The Lord works everything out.”
MIRA FOUNDATION USA, INC. is a 501C(3) corporation, tax id# 26-3603779, and donations are tax deductible. To make a donation, call 910-944-7757 or mail it to 112 North Poplar St., Aberdeen, N.C. 28315.
Contact Kelly Griffith at email@example.com or 919-552-5675.