Burt Reynolds shares big screen with Southeastern Guide Dogs

Kimberly Kuizon reports

- Some big-name celebrities are helping put Southeastern Guide Dogs in the spotlight with a touching story. Burt Reynolds, Amy Smart, Liam McIntyre, and AJ Michalka play roles in the movie, written and directed by Manatee County native Castille Landon.

"And Then There was Light" is about the struggle of a teenage girl after losing her eyesight in a horseback-riding accident. She finds herself at Southeastern Guide Dogs, where a miniature horse named "Apple" is trained to be her guide.

"I think everyone that watches it will be more grateful and realize what they have," Landon explained. "I wanted something that I could relate to, that I liked to watch when I was a younger person. I also wanted people of all ages to relate to it." 

It's a fictional tale, but Landon said she hopes the message of hope and inspiration touches all who watch.

"This is a reality a lot of people deal with. Almost 300 million people have visual impairments and it's not something we think about every day, or any day, and it could happen to anyone," she said.

Burt Reynolds plays the head trainer at Southeastern Guide Dogs.

"I haven't done a picture in a long time that's a real family-sweet picture. I needed to do one. I can't keep jumping out of buildings, doing things like that. I'm too old for that," Reynolds said.

The role is one he said he can relate to. His high school football teammate eventually lost his sight.

"When it happened, he faced it with such great bravery and class. I only wish that I had that kind of class when something like that happens," he said.

It is a movie bound to move people emotionally.

"This story is so important, because the family goes through the trauma and then they come through the other side with this inspiration and hope," said Amy Smart.

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