Mayor Ron Toyota declares White Cane Week at the request of Canadian Blind Golf champion Darren Douma.                                 (Photo credit Lorne Eckersley)

Mayor Ron Toyota declares White Cane Week at the request of Canadian Blind Golf champion Darren Douma. (Photo credit Lorne Eckersley)

Blind golfer works to promote vision awareness

Who better to champion awareness during White Cane Week in Creston?

Who better to champion awareness during White Cane Week in Creston than Canadian Blind Golf champion Darren Douma?

Douma met with Mayor Ron Toyota on Monday to witness the declaration of White Cane Week while taking a break from preparations to attend the World Blind Golf Chanpionships in Rome, Italy next September.

“Darren is a marvelous inspiration to all athletes, whether or not they have handicaps,” Toyota said. “How he manages to golf so well is a mystery to me, and his accomplishments are a reflection of his character and determination.”

In 2014, Douma travelled across the globe to earn second place in both the Australia Open and World Championship blind golfing competitions. His guide then was Kurt Chenuz, and the two are hopeful that Darren can improve on those performances.

Douma also volunteers for Blind Golf Canada and the Western Canada Blind Golf Association.

“These organizations are trying hard to bring more awareness to the public about blind golf and the fact that it’s here—and that we can still play!” he said. “However, these organizations have yet to make the financial strides to be able to assist players financially to represent their countries at these international events. As such, there is no funding provided, and players are personally responsible for all associated costs, including flights, hotels, meals, etc,”

To that end, Douma and Chenuz are hoping for support from local businesses, friends and community-minded people. They have created a GoFundMe page called World Blind Golf Championships 2018.

“As president of the CCB-VIBE-Blind Golf Chapter here in Creston, I will be kicking off White Cane Week with a hot dog sale fundraiser at Overwaitea Foods on Saturday, February 3, he said. White Cane Week in BC runs from February 4-10.

“Please come out to celebrate White Cane Week and support blind golf with a freshly barbecued hot dot,” Douma said.

More hot dog sales are scheduled for nine Saturdays between now and June 23, and Douma expressed his gratitude for the support of Overwaitea Foods.

White Cane Week has been a part of Canadian culture since 1946 and is an initiative of the Canadian Council of the Blind. Over the years the week has evolved to reflect the changing situations of the blind community and has begun to emphasize the equal capabilities and talents of people who are blind or partially blind.

More than 50,000 Canadians lose their vision each year, and the Canadian Council of the Blind estimates that one in four Canadian children have undetected or undiagnosed vision issues. 75 per cent of vision loss is treatable or preventable with early diagnosis and treatment.