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Lighthouse of SWFL to hold White Cane walk, festival Thursday

By Staff | Oct 14, 2015

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to walk a busy intersection while blind? Many people who are visually impaired do that every single day.

On Thursday, Lighthouse of SWFL will hold its annual White Cane Walk from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the highlight being the blindfolded walk across the four corners of U.S. 41 and Pine Island Road in North Fort Myers, the busiest intersection in town.

It is one of two major events for Lighthouse. On Saturday, Oct. 24, it will hold White Cane Fest at the Wa-Ke Hatchee Recreation Center in South Fort Myers from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Thursday’s event will teach people to walk with the white cane people who are blind use to navigate. Participants will be blindfolded and taken to cross all four corners of the intersection, which people have called everything from a rush, to fascinating, to the scariest thing they’ve ever done.

As a result of the second event, the White Cane Walk won’t be as big as it has been in the past, according to J. Mitchell Haley, community relations director.

“We decided we didn’t have the right location to make it grow. But we’re still going to do it as an awareness project,” Haley said. “We’re going to try to wrap things up in an hour or so.”

Once again, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office will be there to direct traffic and make sure the participants are safe.

The Oct. 24 event will start with a 3K Fun Run/Walk around the park, followed by a day filled with food, music and fun.

Events include another white-cane walk, followed by blindfolded games such as “Beep Baseball” and Goal Ball, games made specifically for the blind.

“The Beep ball is an oversized softball that beeps and the hitter has to determine where the ball is and try to hit it,” Haley said. “The game is played across the nation and is pretty competitive.”

Goal Ball is an oversized dodge ball with bells in it. Players roll the ball toward the goal and the goalies try to stop it, Haley said.

There will also be tandem bicycle rides where people with sight will ride along with a person who is blind in the back.

A $25 donation will get you a T-shirt and goodie bag.

Lighthouse of SWFL has served the blind community for more than 40 years. It provides more than 50 rehabilitation and support programs to the visually impaired and blind throughout Lee, Hendry and Glades counties.

Its mission is to help the visually impaired gain independence by teaching them things people with sight take for granted, such as walking and using a computer.

The Lighthouse of SWFL is at 35 W. Mariana Drive in North Fort Myers between U.S. 41 and Business 41, south of Pine IslandRoad.

For more information or to RSVP, call 997-7797 or email mhaley@lighthouseswfl.org.