Donations pour in for Cecil Williams and hero guide dog Orlando

Yesterday, DogTime.com told you about blind New Yorker Cecil Williams and his amazing guide dog, black Labrador Retriever Orlando. On Tuesday, when Williams lost consciousness on a New York City subway platform, tumbling to the train tracks below, brave Orlando jumped down behind his owner, trying to comfort and protect Williams even as an oncoming train barreled towards them both.

Yes, you can keep the dog. (Photo credit: Associated Press)

The New York Daily Newsis calling Williams’ and Orlando’s story “The Miracle Under 125th Street,” and for good reason — though one and a half train cars passed over them as they lie in a trench on the tracks, coming dangerously close to them, Williams escaped with only minor cuts and bruises, and hero Orlando walked away from the incident.

Williams says that without his loyal guide dog, he might not have survived.

“He stayed down there with me,” he says of Orlando, “he was licking my face. He was there for me.”

But as grey-muzzled Orlando nears guide dog retirement age — the age where guide dogs are no longer covered by insurance — Williams feared that he would not be able to afford to keep his four-legged guardian angel.

“Orlando is my best buddy, he’s my pal,” Williams explained during a tear-filled press conference at St. Luke’s Hospital, where Williams is resting after his harrowing fall. “He’s taken me on the trains, the buses — everywhere I need to go.”

“He’s a very gentle gentleman,” Williams adds.

After news broke that Williams might have to part ways with the dog who saved his life, millions of people across the country and around the world felt compelled to act, including Washington, D.C. resident Mark Jacobson. Jacobson started a GoFundMe campaign for Williams and Orlando Wednesday, a campaign that has since raised nearly $40,000.

Yet another fundraising page on IndieGoGo.com has collected more than $68,000 so far, with more donations pouring in by the minute.

In all, more than $100,000 has been raised for Cecil Williams and the dog who saved his life. Williams can barely express his gratitude, and hopes people will be inspired to help others in need, too.

“I’m not a crybaby or nothing. But my eyes are misty and I’m tearing right now because things like this here don’t happen for everybody,” he says. “They should happen. We should care about one another. We should do for one another.”

Williams now has more than enough to continue caring for Orlando for the rest of the hero dog’s life. He has asked that additional donations to be put towards a cause very close to his heart. Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown, New York, is the organization responsible for training guide dogs and pairing them with people who need them. Eight years ago, Guiding Eyes introduced Cecil Williams to Orlando.

“The spirit of giving, Christmas and all that there — it exists here, and it’s in New York. I appreciate that people got together and helped me to keep Orlando — it is going to cover him for the rest of his life,” an emotional Williams says. “There are other people out there on disabilities who need dogs — if you could find it in your heart, you can send donations to Guiding Eyes.”

Sources: The Daily Beast, Associated Press, New York Daily News