Blind vet, paralympian, gets guide dog

BLOOMFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — A veteran who lost his sight in Afghanistan found a guide and more here in Connecticut.

News 8 first met Lieutenant Brad Snyder a year ago. He came to the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation to choose a new best friend.

Brad Snyder and Gizzy make a great team. But just three years ago, Lieutenant Bradley Snyder was part of a different team, a foot patrol in Afghanistan when two roadside bombs went off.

“Unfortunately, I was severely injured on my face and parts of my arm, but fortunately, I was able to walk away from that incident,” said Lt. Bradley Snyder, U.S. Navy (Ret.).

With just one problem, he lost his sight. That’s what brought him to Bloomfield one year ago. This is him meeting Gizzy. Over the past year, they formed a new team.

“Not only does she help me with my mobility aspect, getting me out in the community and allowing me to travel, and allowing me to get to the grocery store and get a haircut, but she also keeps me on a routine,” said Snyder.

Which is useful because Brad is also part of another team…the US paralympic swim team. In 2012, he won two golds and a silver in London. He also met Prince Harry, President Obama, and everyone at baseball’s all-star game.

Not every client here is a war hero or a gold medalist, but these kinds of stories happen all the time here at the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation. They don’t do it alone. They need the public’s help, and they have some events coming up where you can do just that.

“Whether it’s our motorcycle fundraising ride in July, join team Fidelco and run in the Hartford marathon, you can run the full marathon, a half, a 5K, or just walk to raise funds for Fidelco,” said Eliot Russman, Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation CEO.

Now a year ago News 8’s Kent Pierce asked Fidelco’s CEO about Brad’s dog asking if the dog was going to have to swim too?”

“That’s between brad and his dog,” said Russman, a year ago.

So this year he had to ask…

“Now what kind of a swimmer is she? We haven’t got her in the pool quite yet,” said Snyder.

But Brad is spending plenty of time in the pool, training for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.

“To really surround myself with a supporting family and find my way into the pool as part of Team USA was really cathartic for me to be part of a new unit,” said Snyder.

But the unit that’s going to get him to the pool every day and to Rio is the team formed a year ago right here in Bloomfield.

How you can help: Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation

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