Guide Dog to Help Blind Paralympian

A guide dog will help U.S. Navy Lt. Brad Snyder get to Paralympic Games in Rio.

Of the many inspiring stories from the Olympics, U.S. Navy Lt. Brad Snyder’s stands out.

Snyder was blinded in Afghanistan in 2011 when an improvised explosive device exploded as he was trying to evacuate wounded people. After eight weeks of medical treatment, he spent about three months learning how to navigate daily activities with blindness, he told Swimming World Magazine.

Despite his inability to see, Snyder became a medal winner in the Paralympic Games in London, winning two gold medals and a silver medal.

“Being the person I was before becoming blind … autonomous, very independent. … I really want to get back to that as much as possible,” Snyder said on Thursday.

Next, he hopes to compete in the Paralympic Games in Rio in 2016, and he was in Bloomfield, Connecticut on Thursday to choose a guide dog that will help him achieve that goal.

Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, a non-profit based in Bloomfield, provides people who are blind with dogs that are specially trained to accompany them everywhere and help them perform everyday tasks that many take for granted.

“The [dogs] fly with them on the plane, they’re on the bus, the subway … so they definitely get a special bond that regular pet owners don’t have,” Becky Cook, of Fidelco, said.

On Thursday, Lt. Snyder went to Fidelco’s main facility and walked around with two guide dogs to test them out.

“I’m really looking forward to establishing a bond,” he said.

While Snyder has the support of family and friends, the 29-year-old said he missed being able to complete ordinary tasks on his own.

“I like to get outside. I like to enjoy mountain biking and kayaking,” Lt. Snyder said.

He’ll be able to do that in just a few weeks when he brings home a guide dog and Lt. Snyder said he’ll be ready to hit the ground running.

“My priority is to train for 2016 in the Rio Paralympics, and having a dog will allow me to walk to and from swim practice, get to and from the gym, and also be able to travel to swim meets across the country,” Snyder said.

Watch and listen to an interview Snyder did with NBC last year.

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