Marianopolis student inspires others to raise funds for MIRA Foundation
Published Sunday, February 23, 2014 6:57PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, February 23, 2014 7:14PM EST
MONTREAL-- First-year student Lorenzo Letizia, 19, walks the halls of Marianopolis College with confidence.
“I'm the first visually-impaired student who ever attended Marianopolis,” he said, adding that when he graduates he’d like a plaque that says “Lorenzo Letizia: pioneer!”
Letizia lost his sight in 2002, when he was seven-years-old, because of a brain tumour that affected his optic nerve.
The school is happy to have him as a part of its community, and have made necessary accommodations to ensure he can still be involved in student life.
“I think the smartest thing we did was introduce him to student congress,” said Louise McClelland, the school’s director of student services.
McClelland said that the school's student congress has worked closely alongside Letizia, and that he’s since become quite active within the school's community.
In order to move around campus, Letizia relies on Pato -- a guide dog from the MIRA Foundation -- that helps him get around.
Mira dogs are offered to people with visual disabilities free of charge, to help them commute independently.
Letizia speaks passionately about his relationship with Pato.
“In all sense of the word ‘life partner,’” he said. “I actually put my life in his hands everyday, every moment that we walk.”
Letizia’s relationship with his dog inspired Paul Khoury, another first-year student at the school, who is a member of student congress. He suggested organizing a fundraiser to help raise money for the MIRA Foundation.
"When I first got to know Lorenzo, we became friends very quickly, and I saw how amazing his dog was to him and how much he helps him out," Khoury said.
The event was interactive, and had students go through an obstacle course with a blindfold and a MIRA dog.
"I think it's a wonderful idea...we've never had anything like that here before," said McClelland of the fundraiser.
The effort helped raise both funds and awarenss for the cause.