Sydneysiders Naomi Bolter and George Cham might not be able to see a game of rugby league but that won't stop them from being leading the Wests Tigers out this Friday night.


To help raise awareness of how Guide Dogs NSW/ACTs services have enabled their independence, Naomi and her guide dog, Maggie, and George, with the aid of his long cane, will lead the Wests Tigers out on the field for the clash with the Cronulla Sharks at Allianz Stadium.


Naomi, from Glenfield, and George, from Bass Hill are representing Guide Dogs NSW/ACTs Kicking Goals for Guide Dogs & Vision Loss campaign spearheaded by sports commentator Andrew Voss, whose family was recently touched by vision loss when his mother and her twin sister were diagnosed with Glaucoma.


Naomi and George attended training at Concord Oval this morning to meet the players ahead of the match. The cute puppies from the Guide Dogs NSW also attracted plenty of friendly attention from the players.


The 'Kicking Goals for Guide Dogs & Vision Loss campaign sees the four football codes who share tenancy at the SCG and Allianz Stadium - Wests Tigers (rugby league), the Sydney Swans (AFL), Sydney FC (soccer) and the NSW Waratahs (rugby union) unite to support Guide Dogs NSW/ACTs free services for people with vision impairment.


From learning how to use a long cane to get safely around school when I was five years old to receiving my new guide dog Maggie a month ago, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has played a significant role in enabling me to be independent, says Naomi, a mum of two and public servant, who has been totally blind since birth due to a congenital eye condition called Leber's Amaurosis.


Being able to represent Guide Dogs NSW/ACT at the Wests Tigers game is a wonderful opportunity to tell other people that their services are free, their instructors provide training to fit in with your lifestyle and that they offer much more than guide dogs.


George, whose vision is impaired due to a condition he was born with called Toxoplasmosis, agreed.


"Being vision impaired doesnt stop me from going to an NRL game and enjoying the game that I love. I may not be able to see the game, but I have my radio and sports ears with me to hear the commentary I just love going and soaking up the atmosphere.


Andrew Voss, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Ambassador, hoped the united footy code initiative would remind sports fans, players and the general public to not take their eyesight for granted.


Our eyesight is critical to all we do, but if it is causing you problems in getting around its great to know that Guide Dogs NSW/ACTs range of services can help you remain independent, Voss said.


Dr Graeme White, CEO of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, congratulated Andrew and the four football codes on uniting for such an important issue.


Vision loss is a challenging disability and its on the rise, said Dr White. Our services enable people with vision loss to go to school, go to university, go to work and pursue social and sporting interests without having to rely on others to take them.


Due to Australias ageing population, it is estimated that by 2020 there will be more than 100,000 people in NSW and ACT with un-correctable vision loss, including over 20,000 who will be blind[i].


In the past year, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has provided services free of charge, including training in how to use canes and guide dogs, to around 3,800 people with impaired vision.


For more information, call Guide Dogs NSW/ACT on (02) 9412 9300.


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