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Generous donators help blind man keep hero guide dog that saved his life

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In a touching display of festive generosity, well wishers have donated over $45,000 to help a blind man keep the heroic guide dog who saved his life when he fell onto a New York subway track.

Donations have flooded in to help Cecil Williams, 61, keep his loyal companion Orlando, after the story about how the dog saved him from certain death earlier this week made national headlines.

Williams fainted at the 125th Street platform in Harlem, Manhattan, on Tuesday, and despite his best friend's efforts to hold him up, the pair both tumbled onto the subway tracks as an oncoming train approached the station.

Orlando woke the unconscious Williams by licking his face, enabling the blind man to flatten himself between the rails as the lead car passed over the pair of them.

Miraculously, although they were struck by the train, neither was seriously hurt.

Williams was in danger of being separated from his best friend next year because his insurance company declined to cover the 10-year-old guide dog following retirement.

But thanks to the generosity of kind-hearted strangers, he will now be able to keep his companion of 8 years as a pet, while the insurance company will provide him with a second working guide dog.

In an emotional press conference, Williams thanked the people who donated.

"I feel that it's a blessing, I feel that it's a miracle," said Williams, who has been blind since 1995.

"All the people that contributed or donated, we should take our hat off to them. There's still good people in this world.

"I appreciate that people got together and helped me to keep Orlando -- it is going to cover him for the rest of his life."

Williams is recovering in hospital following the incident, with Orlando at his bedside.

Williams said he is not sure why he lost consciousness, but he is on insulin and other medications.

Meanwhile, Orlando the heroic black Labrador will get to enjoy his retirement in comfort.

After all, "He’s a senior citizen -- he’s got grey hair," Williams explained. "He’s looking forward to enjoying life now."

Mr. Williams added that anyone wishing to make a donation to other people in need can get in touch with Guiding Eyes, the guide dog school that trained Orlando.



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