Double Disabilities Doesn’t Stop Brevard Resident Melissa Knepper From Assisting Others
By Bobbie Vance // March 24, 2019
Knepper was blind at birth as a result of damaged optic nerves
WATCH: Brevard County resident Melissa Knepper is both blind and deaf, but she and her guide dog, Marisa, are determined to fundraise a minimum of $5,000 so others can have the independence of a Guide Dog, as she does.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Brevard County resident Melissa Knepper is both blind and deaf, but she and her guide dog, Marisa, are determined to fundraise a minimum of $5,000 so others can have the independence of a Guide Dog, as she does.
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The money goes directly to Southeastern Guide Dogs, a non-profit organization located in Palmetto, Florida. They train and provide guide dogs for those who are visually impaired and to disabled veterans at no cost.
Each year, Southeastern Guide Dogs hosts walkathons around southeastern Florida to raise money for the breeding, training, on-campus instruction lifetime follow-up for graduating guide dogs.
Founded in 1982, they are a non-profit organization that receives no government funding and relies on 100 percent donations.
This year, walkathons are held in Orlando, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Fort Myers and Tampa, with the goal to raise $1.3 million. Knepper is participating in the Orlando event on Saturday, April 13 but donations can be made online until May 20.
Walkathon participants who reach the goal of raising $5,000 earn the honor of naming a puppy who will be trained to be a guide dog.
CLICK HERE to make donations on Melissa & Marisa’s fundraising page on the Southeastern Guide Dogs website.
Melissa has now been the recipient of three guide dogs over the years through this organization. She was born in Turkey and adopted by an Army couple while they were stationed there.
Melissa was blind at birth as a result of damaged optic nerves, but she wasn’t diagnosed as legally blind until the age of 10.
She started to lose her hearing when she was 12 and learned sign language in 1998 so that she could better communicate. Although her sight has stabilized, her hearing has worsened and she is now considered deaf.
These disabilities have not stopped Melissa from achieving purpose in life; she graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and in 2002, she received her State of Florida license as a Massage Therapist and is also licensed in the state of North Carolina.
She is married and currently practices at Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa in Melbourne, Florida.
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