19 Nov 17

By Carolina Tumminelli

Carolina with her table having fun at Peak Potential 2017!

Carolina with her table having fun at Peak Potential 2017!

Be the main character in your life, and the supporting character for others, especially in those lives of the people you hold dear.

When Randy asked me a few days ago if I wanted to write the guest blog about his foundation’s main event, Peak Potential, I was thrilled.  When I realized that he asked me because of a conversation we had had months ago – marathons ago, difficult times ago, ages ago – I was honored.  I have never heard an unkind word spoken about Randy or Tracy – in fact, everyone always says they are both inspirational, awe-inspiring, amazing.  That’s all true, and last night’s event was a complete testament to that.  But that wasn’t my take away from last night’s dinner and fundraiser.

I arrived fashionably early last night, and was immediately greeted by Tracy, Randy’s beautiful and also inspiring wife.  Tracy isn’t just the woman behind the  man – she takes on her own challenges – school while working full time, running, etc – and handles them with grace and sometimes, I’m sure, a few choice words, but nonetheless she handles them!  I was handed my name tag, given a few details about the night, and directed to the room where the silent auction items were laid out.  There were people milling about looking at items, but what struck me was the team that was still working diligently to take care of those last few details to make sure the event went smoothly.  As my friends arrived, we drank, ate and chatted.  And that’s the second time I was awe-struck again.  I was surrounded by friends – amazing people who were doing amazing things, some small, some large – none more amazing than the next and everyone had chosen to spend an evening in support of our friend, Randy, because of what he meant to us.

The items for the silent auction were plentiful and amazing – from jewelry, to weekend stays at a ski resort, to a beautiful, handmade afghan blanket made by Randy’s mother (probably the most valuable item in that room).  It was wonderful to see how many different people and organizations had come together to donate items to support 2020 Vision Quest.

We were slowly ushered into the dining room, where dinner was served.  The food was delicious and the atmosphere lively – somehow you felt and knew that Randy and Tracy, and their friends, had orchestrated every last detail so that we would all have an amazing evening (although I must admit, the coffee was lacking in quality, but I’ll let it slide).

The Live Auction was next and brought laughter, bribery with puppies, bidding wars, and an extraordinary amount of money raised for the charity! And apparently someone is being fed homemade scones by Randy while riding in a hot air balloon – I’ll let you decide if that’s a prize or not.

Then, Randy spoke.  I don’t want to say he gave a presentation – he does that almost every day to various schools and organizations.  Nope, last night, Randy spoke.  He spoke to a room full of friends, family, supporters – he spoke to his team – the people he has in his life who help him get through the big challenges, the daily struggles, the happy times and sad days.  Randy spoke about being the main character in your life story – making the choices that allow you to be the best person you can be, to reach your Peak Potential.  No matter who you are, you need to surround yourself with a team of people who will help you, guide you, catch you when you fall, laugh with you, and love you.  Randy spoke about building that team so that you could be the main character in your life story, not just a backseat driver.  And I’ll take it one step further: on top of being the main character in your own life story, be a supporting role for others, particularly those people that you hold dear.  Life is too short to live it in solitude, thinking you can achieve your goals alone.  Besides, when you get to the top of the mountain, you want someone there to share in the champagne, whiskey, coffee, and cake (okay, maybe not the coffee!).

2020 Vision Quest Poster with Quinn and Randy on a winter slope, with the words "Climb Your Mountain" superimposedGuys, life is not easy, but it wasn’t meant to be.  We all have our stories, our struggles, our journeys. I own my own business, have two small children, attempt to be a runner, and try to be there for my friends and family – the people I hold close.  Because without those people, I wouldn’t be able to even THINK about achieving the goals I want to achieve.  They believe in me, even when I do not.

The final “event” of the night was a team/table event where people could make pledges towards 2020 Vision Quest.  The team – everyone in the room – raised more than $13,000 in less than 10 minutes! That’s teamwork!

At the end of the night, I grabbed one of the posters that was being handed out.  I didn’t open it up until this morning, but when I did, I knew it was a poster that was going to be hanging in my kitchen so that I could see it every day, so that my kids could see it every day.  It is the embodiment of what I want to teach my children – climb your mountain, reach your peak potential, and remember, you can’t do it alone – build your team and be there for the people who have chosen you to be on their team.

Learn more about Carolina Tumminelli.

 

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12 Nov 17

By Randy Pierce

The 2020 Vision Quest team is taking their Rainbow Mountain Smiles and Converting them to Platinum Smiles – will you Join us?

The 2020 Vision Quest team is taking their Rainbow Mountain Smiles and converting them to Platinum Smiles – will you join us?

I am tremendously proud of the work we undertake with 2020 Vision Quest as well as the manner in which we approach highly efficient, earnest, honest and transparent financial practices. We do this because it is right and to ensure your support is honored and treasured to provide the best results your hard earned donations deserve. We have recently earned Guide Star’s highest level of charitable accolade: Guide Star Platinum Seal of Transparency!

Guide Star is the premier informational reporting agency for non-profit companies in the United States. It is a means for you to be confident that in conjunction with the great work we do in our educational outreach to thousands of school students and along with our fiscal support of Future In Sight and Guiding Eyes for the Blind; we are excellent caretakers of the responsibility of managing our charity and the financials of 2020 Vision Quest.

Do good while you shop at AmazonSmileSo as we enter the holiday season when many people, including Autumn and I, will be shopping a little more than usual, it’s an excellent time to announce that we have been registered with Amazon Smiles. This means your purchases on Amazon can help support our charity if you simply choose to select us as the charity you want to support with the Amazon Smiles Program.

Click the image to the right or use this link to automatically choose 2020 Vision Quest.

So if you want to be on Autumn’s nice list, why not put a smile on all of our faces and make this simple choice to help us make even more of a difference. You know we’ll treat your choice better than gold!

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5 Nov 17

Every year as the donations for Peak Potential begin arriving I get excited about which ones I plan to bid on or which ones I feel are particularly awesome. This year, I thought I’d take the time to share some of the amazing options provided by our generous group of donors and let you join in the excitement and if you are attending create your own plan as well. I’ll take this moment to thank you in advance for bringing, if possible, your checkbooks.  While we do take credit cards their use reduces the amount that 2020 Vision Quest receives by 3% of your payment. Now on to the exciting part, what’s up for grabs??

A collage of photos show a colorful hot air balloon, a picture of santa with a finger over his lips, a table set for a fine dinner, and a head and shoulders shot of Stephen Colbert.

Live Auction Items

This year’s live auction items are a pretty exciting bunch and I am particularly enthusiastic about them because I get to directly participate in two of them!

The items include:

  1. A chance to join Randy and I for a hot air balloon ride.
  2.  A one to two hour visit with Santa for your holiday party.
  3. Dinner for 4, made by me personally, and hosted at Randy and my home.
  4. Two tickets (note: Tracy correct error from three to two) for a November 29, 2017 taping of the Stephen Colbert Show  in New York City.

As usual, one never knows what sort of additional items Randy may decide to throw into a package so be ready for anything and start your planning!

 

Silent Auction Items

Our silent auction offerings are a diverse mix of experiential, travel, artistic, potable, and fun items. We already have over 90 items this year which means my preview of items below cannot possibly include them all. Some items that stood out to me personally include:

An image of a quaint weekend getaway home - located 20 minutes from North Conway.A weekend Getaway or ski weekend in a vacation home located just 20 minutes from North Conway. There are several weekend options to choose from and this home sleeps 6-8 people.

Two nights stay in Carrabassett Valley with 4 ski lift tickets.

Two nights stay at Loon Mountain.

 

An amazing Coach handbag, the leather is butter soft and this is an amazing everyday bag. Image of two toned leather Coach handbag.

A signed autographed copy and photo with the author of The Tethered Mage, a new fantasy book that is getting rave reviews.

Fun for all of the adventure lovers including gift certificates for paintball, escape rooms, indoor rock climbing, Launch Trampoline park and more…

We have a return of a several very popular jewelers, along with a few new jewelers and array of pieces to fit many different styles from necklaces to bracelets and earrings.

For the athletically inclined we have gift certificates to Runner’s Alley, an amazing Head tennis racket package from,  Willow Racquet & Fitness Centre, a great swim package from H2GO (I can attest to the greatness of their swim coaching!), as well as, a variety of options for ski lift tickets.

Gorgeous imagery by Greg Neault, Lisa Berman and Yolanta Sprucinsky (watch out, I’m bidding on all three!). Also a chance for a personal portrait session by Mallory Portraits.

I could go on for a very long time. I think this year we have been particularly blessed with generosity from donors providing a grand variety of items and you will find something for everyone in our auction. I look forward to seeing you on the 18th!

 

 

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29 Oct 17

By Randy Pierce

Randy presents in front of a room of children who are seated and paying attention.“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

– Likely anonymous though often mistakenly attributed to William Yeats

Why am I so passionate about the 2020 Vision Quest educational presentations to students in schools throughout New England?  In my own life, the transition to blindness was a catalyst which I believe did much to enhance my ultimate drive and accomplishments as well as personal happiness. I often share my belief that the lack of adversity is more likely to bring about stagnation for any of us — and conversely, challenges bring about the best opportunity for growth and achievement.

One significant epiphany was realizing that it did not have to be something negative or detrimental that brought about the spark of growth as powerfully as I experienced. While I acknowledge the potent value of experience, I found my presentation style interwoven with the depth of my experiences could result in captivating, motivating, and life-changing results for the students with whom I interacted. As more and more reports from teachers, parents, and administrators suggested the positive impact was significant, I became inspired to better understand and enhance this approach.

I think most of us strive for positive meaning in our lives and I find this in many different ways. Students of all ages represent the  future of this world and a possible positive legacy to which I feel a tremendous allure. I delight in hearing each moment when someone expands their belief in their own future of possibility. I take tremendous hope when I feel I’ve enhanced acceptance for the message of working together and understanding the value of kindness in all of our interactions. I am buoyed by the many sharings from others that my efforts have lifted their spirits, enhanced their perspective on adversity, or inspired them to work towards a better life for themselves and a better world for us all. Best of all, most of these things are common responses which serve to reinforce my dedication to a core mission of 2020 Vision Quest.

Why do I share all of this with you today? It isn’t intended as any boast of my abilities. I’m aware of my many shortcomings even as I appreciate the aspects of this work which are so commonly well received. I share it because it has been the efforts of many in the past and present which have enabled this work to take place and it will take the continued efforts of many to ensure we continue to undertake this great work. I am certain I will put forth my best efforts because I so well believe in what I’m doing and the results which I hear back from students, teachers, administrators and parents. My fire has been lit and I hope enough inspiration has reached our community to continue the great support we’ve received. Much as the often misattributed quote above suggests, the root of it may be in the classics and I hope for all of us to experience a little kindling but especially our young minds just setting out on the journey of their lives!

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”

- Plutarch

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21 Oct 17

We often post this around this time of year as a nod to the season’s spooky nature. Happy Halloween!

**

The Scary Realities of Vision Loss

By Randy Pierce

Imagine reaching for the light switch in total darkness on an eerie Halloween evening. You flip the switch and nothing happens. You are surrounded by frightening noises as your hands find only unidentifiable objects. You’re trapped in a prison of manifested fear!

While there may be moments similar to this fright in the lives of someone newly blind, there is perhaps an even more powerful terror in the transitioning through vision loss towards blindness. Losing vision is challenging with the fear of the unknown and the anticipation of how much will become more difficult or seemingly impossible. Certainly any form of vision loss is going to present difficulty and each person’s experience will be different.

One fundamental part of our mission with 2020 Vision Quest is to demonstrate the possibilities of success despite vision loss, or, in my case, a transition to total blindness. This is not just intended for those dealing with the challenges directly, but also all those whose lives may be touched by these challenges despite living in a fully sighted life. So very much of a typical world is visual that it impacts many aspects of how we interact with the world and with each other. It can be tremendously isolating to have that common connection diminish in ways far too many people simply do not understand.

I do not for a moment pretend to have all the answers regarding life or vision loss. I still find many moments of significant frustration as I attempt to manage particularly difficult aspects of blindness and, not surprisingly, life. Just like anyone, there are challenges and they can at times seem to overwhelm any of us. As with any challenge, the right preparation, the right support, and a more educated world can vastly increase the chances of successful achievement through any adversity.

In thinking about the “Trick or Treat” of blindness, I acknowledge all the real and scary frustrations possible. I also welcome the incredibly powerful perspective it has brought to me as well. In losing my sight, I began to develop a more powerful vision for myself and my world. Paying attention to all the other aspects of our senses, environment, and interactions which are not visual can have a beneficial side. It’s forced me to “look” at the world differently, but has also inspired me to try to do so often in a variety of ways as I try to understand as much as possible outside the realm of the typical. While without question I do wish every day for the chance to have sight again, I know that I am glad for having lost my sight and the vision that blindness has helped bring to me.

Hopefully our charity efforts will provide education, inspiration and much more! I know that I’ve received a lot of both though the process thus far!

Happy Halloween!

See the original post here.

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15 Oct 17

By Greg Neault

Tracy with arms up on the summit of a mountain.I was running when I wrote this, so sue me if it goes too fast.

A lot of people have asked me why I decided to run a marathon. After today’s 16-mile training run, I’ve been wondering that myself. One of the leading hypotheses is that I must have been inspired to take on this bench mark of physical feats by the exploits of one Randy Pierce.

It’s easy to see why that theory would gain so much traction in my social circles. Randy and I spend a lot of time adventuring together, he is a perennial marathon runner (heck, he’s even running the very marathon I’m registered for), and if I had a nickel for every time I heard someone refer to Randy as “inspirational,” I wouldn’t be able to claim my position on staff at 2020 Vision Quest as volunteer work.

Tracy at the Sky Lodge in Peru.Although there is certainly a strong case to be made for Randy being my marathon inspiration, it’s not accurate. Don’t get me wrong, he’s certainly inspired a lot of people to do a lot of positive things (myself included), this just isn’t one of them. I’ve come to accept the fact that Randy is a force of nature that will not be stopped. He’s like my personal Chuck Norris. Our adventures don’t challenge Randy; Randy challenges our adventures. If this was your guess, though, take heart–you weren’t too far off the mark.

What some people in our 2020 Vision Quest audience may not know is that Tracy Pierce is also a marathon veteran. I have tapped into a deep well of inspiration in following the exploits of the fairer Pierce. Tracy is ever present in our adventures and exploits and as such I’ve had the privilege of bearing witness to her trials, tribulations, and triumphs.

On more than one occasion I have used the word “tenacious” to describe Tracy in pursuit of goals. When she sets her mind to a task, she will push through all physical, mental, and emotional challenges presented to reach the finish line (literally and figuratively).

Tracy with her arms up on a summit.Tracy very regularly signs on for activities that she knows are going to be an immense challenge for her that will likely be much less of an issue (possibly none at all) for many others in the group. That takes guts. I’ve often wondered if I have that kind of fortitude. I have much more than the required courage to scale a cliff to sleep in a glass bubble high above the Sacred Valley. But would I have the courage to accept an invitation from folks with greater skills or endurance than I to take part in an activity that I feel I may struggle to accomplish? I can’t say.

Tracy goes into these events with full knowledge that she won’t be the first to complete this race or challenge, she’s not going to win a national division championship, and she’s not going to be called heroic or inspirational by passersby. When some are being congratulated on their perseverance for taking on this challenge blind or dedicating their efforts to guiding a blind person through such dramatic circumstance, Tracy is hiking her hike or running her run, with no promise of accolades or pats on the back, no ribbons or Boston Marathon qualifying glory. She doesn’t do it because other people have done it–she does it because she wants to and it pleases her to do so.

When I watch Tracy take on big things, struggle harder than others, push though that hardship and make it happen, it inspires me to push myself into the unfamiliar, to reach out beyond my comfort zone and try something that does not promise to end in my favor, the completion of which will be rewarding.

I hope to bring some of her tenacity with me to the California International Marathon. If I can employ that trademark iron will, I’ll be on the path to success in Sacramento.

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7 Oct 17

By Randy Pierce

Randy and Jose running in the California International Marathon in 2014.

Jose and Randy epitomize determination as they stride towards the finish line at the 2014 California International Marathon.

 ”The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race. It’s to test the limits of the human heart.”
—Bill Bowerman, track and field coach and co-founder of Nike, Inc.

The real measure of a heart is not in the athletic accomplishments it may power, but rather the lives impacted by its capacity for caring. As a blind runner, I am simply dependent upon guides to enable so much of the possibility in my experiences. I am truly and wonderfully blessed with an incredible number of most excellent character friends. Jose Acevedo has a heart with strength to rival any in compassion for our world and our friendship, and it is with tremendous pride I am sharing we’ll be undertaking yet another pair of adventures together.

In 2014 he guided me to a first place finish in the B1 National Marathon Championship and was overheard to share that it was his last marathon. He amended that statement in moments with a caveat that allowed for the possibility of running the Boston Marathon with me someday. We made that wish a plan in 2016 but unfortunately that was a year laden with neurological challenges for me. We did complete the Boston Marathon together in 2016 with a story worthy of sharing as often as possible: Jose & Randy’s 2016 Boston Marathon Saga.

Now we will combine them with back-to-back marathons reuniting us at the scene of both events for an epic reunion. December 3, 2017 will bring the California International Marathon and another chance to compete in the United States Association of Blind Athletes National Marathon Championship. Sacramento California holds great memories for us and we’ve both travelled a long way since then, including the rooftop of Africa on Kilimanjaro and more recently in the Peruvian Andes of South America. More aptly we’ve both learned a tremendous amount about long distance running and hope to improve on our experience.

Randy and Jose run the Boston Marathon in 2016, despite many health challenges.

Randy and Jose run the Boston Marathon in 2016, despite many health challenges.

We’ll strive to run well, finish strong, ring the Boston Qualifier bell, savor a celebratory beverage, particularly cheer for our good friend Greg Neault’s first marathon out there with us, and then immediately return the focus to training for the second part of our mission.

April 16, 2018 is Marathon Monday, Patriots Day, and for us the rematch to fully savor and deliver the performance our many thousands of miles in training have suggested we are likely to deserve. Bringing our marathon from California to Boston is a symbolic coast to coast as we aren’t running across the country (yet!). It will still be ambitious work to train steadily for two high-performance goals at the marathon distance and moreso as we are geographically separated with his home in Texas and mine in New Hampshire.

Since we are on symbolic messaging though, I love the unity suggested in the guided running foundation. For us it is a team sport and we do learn to work together despite our many differences. Connecting our marathons across country is a unifying notion I continue to hope becomes more than symbolic for our country moving forward. Divisiveness and finding difference is an easy task and easier still to choose aggressive stances even though the results are unproductive at best and destructive more commonly. We all can have so much in common when we put our focus on the unifying approaches and use those as a foundation to find the means to work around and with the differences. It is what Jose and I do during our runs when I assure you we will hit stressful times for each of us from the course, from our weariness and soreness; we keep our thoughts towards our common goal and the many reasons and ways to work together and I have absolutely no doubt that we will be stronger together for our approach and successful in both races. Of course I have the advantage of knowing that Jose brings a tremendous heart to the team as an athlete and as a person of quality. Thank you for being my guide and my friend; let’s put our training and teamwork to the test!

 

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1 Oct 17

By Randy Pierce

“The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth, dwelling deeply in the present moment and feeling truly alive.”
-  Thich Nhat Hanh

The team with the Rainbow Mountain Range behind them.

The team with the Rainbow Mountain Range behind them. Photo courtesy of Tracy Pierce.

On our recent trip to South America, we chose a series of rewarding and challenging experiences that blended the historically intense cultures with the breath-taking backdrops of the incredible natural treasures held within Peru. This only served to enhance the notion of savoring each step along the journey despite the unparalleled splendor of Rainbow Mountain which dominated the landscape from our perch atop Winicunca at the end of our remote trek through the Andes. Certainly the altitude had already stolen much of our breath and yet the staggering views managed to evoke an astonishment beyond the expectations we had built, despite viewing many photographs in preparation for the moment. Each of us were held for a time, imprisoned in sublime silence by the majesty of those magical mountains and still there was something more powerfully at root within us for the true culmination of our expedition.

We began assembling in Cusco, Peru at an impressive altitude of 11,132 feet. We roamed around the historic Plaza de Armas and observed the melding of Spanish culture with that of the native Quechuan people. Such vast differences in culture from our own as the festive marketplace was an experience in and of itself. Soon our travel guides, United Mice, brought us to Walter Suri who would be our guide for most of the experiences ahead.  A native Quechuan, he spoke four languages and was well versed in the history and culture of his people with a bias understandably different from the textbooks with which most of us had more familiarity.

The team at Machu Picchu

The team at Machu Picchu. Photo courtesy of Tracy Pierce.

We toured many areas of original stonework crafting demonstrating the astounding talent of the Incan Empire. Their ability to build to withstand the earthquakes of the region and to integrate it with their natural world showcased remarkable artistry and engineering. We filled a week of learning on just the one-day trek across a pair of tectonic plates and seemingly a handful of centuries as well. Walter gave us insight into a people not quite lost to time. We stood in the chambers of the Temple of the Sun where King Inca was held prisoner and ransomed for a room full of gold and understood a little of the tragic results of civilizations colliding without the sophistication to preserve the worthy qualities of each culture. We took those somber reflections away from the city of Cusco.

The entire trip was initially founded upon a visit to Machu Picchu. While highly commercialized by the busloads of tourists brought into the ruins each morning, the vast mountain retreat is still impressively captivating. Built into the mountain with terraces, fountains, and the ever-present Incan stoneworkings, it was easy to  look across the deep chasm and marvel once again at the civilization which crafted this mountainside retreat.

Top-down view of a man climbing up an extremely steep stone staircase with jungle beneath him.

A very steep climb up Machu Picchu. Photo courtesy of Tracy Pierce.

We barely had time to appreciate a fraction of those marvels before we set out to climb Huayna Picchu. This craggy peak towers over Machu Picchu and is rated amongst the most frightening climbs in the world as it blends sheer drop-offs with steps built into the cliff edge along the way up to the terraced top. It provides an unrivaled view of the region and a challenge for those to whom heights are intimidating. While not more challenging a trail than what we routinely encounter in our White Mountains of New Hampshire, the consequences of a misstep were continuously more stark and the emotional energy was as significant as the rewards we shared in our team success throughout the many difficult stretches of this climb.

Already we had savored an incredible amount and the majority of our experiences remained ahead with the subsequent days’ start of our four day trek into the Ausangate Range. It began on a very rough road in which our adapting to the pace of low oxygen breathing was interspersed with dodging the “no license required” motorcycles which were a primary means for farmers to move simple supplies along this road into the mountains. We gained elevation steadily and the massive form of Ausangate or “Snow Mountain” was ever in our sights. This enormous peak is taller than Kilimanjaro and would be the center point of our hike. We passed through farms and briefly experienced a life so quiet and incredibly rural as to hear the call of civilizations past. Two very young school girls travelled with us after school, part of their two-hour walk on trails, one way(!) to attend school. Alpaca, llama, and sheep were commonly encountered along the way.

While being quickly surrounded by a remote and beautiful wilderness, the struggles were interspersed throughout the team as altitude can cause painful headaches, nausea, and a wearisome shortness of breath. The team began both encouraging and supporting each other early and I thought for some it was indeed the best of times and worst of times. Sunset on the first day was particularly incredible as we were just nearing our final camp destination and our rolling highland hills held dramatic clouds surrounding Ausangate’s glacially capped magnificence. Exhausted from the effort and immersed into the sudden splendor of these ranges, the Upi village hot springs were something only a few of our group appreciated and the gift of southern hemisphere stars without any light pollution was a wonder to behold. The Milky Way was vividly creamy and the “Black Llama” inverse constellation highlighted the nebula viewing possibilities.

Beautiful view of Ausangate in the distance.

Beautiful view of Ausangate in the distance. Photo courtesy of Jose Acevedo.

The next day we climbed higher still to Arrapa Pass as we circumnavigated the seemingly impassable mass of Ausangate. Tiny stone homes where a shepherd brought his herd every five years in rotation were some of the only signs of any connection to an outside world we had near completely escaped. As we camped by the Western Ice-fall of Ausangate, our evening held the sounds of many avalanches thunderous enough to raise our focus and just distant enough to ensure we had no peril. The twin glaciers dripping down the steep side framed a massive waterfall into turquoise lagoons in a valley of incredible serenity.

The views, celebrations, and struggles continued for many of our number and the support, caring and connection of the team grew with each step. I was trading guides regularly to avoid any strain on them and fortunately my health remained near ideal throughout the entire trip. Our third day brought us over 16,000 feet a couple of times and past remote locations where seemingly wild Alpaca ranged beneath a waterfall on the edge aof a ridge line across yet another lagoon. We had passed the shark-tooth mass of an unnamed dour mountain and the geological wonders of the rainbow striations were seen in the distance and our ultimate reward. Communal meal tent time brought the team together to reflect on the trail, distract with laughter, or simply share struggles and support. Each portion of the trip brought visual splendors which surpassed expectations and always the remote aspects of the experience were a gift to us. So it was that our final trek began at 3:30 am so that we would arrive to the Rainbow Mountain Ridge before the ever growing popularity of day trips brought people to our secret treasure. We had roughly half an hour of near seclusion to savor the team, the accomplishment, and the majesty before the arrivals of day trippers from the other side began. We made our way out amongst them, appreciative of our guide Walter’s impeccable timing.

For almost half the team this was a parting of sorts as eight of us would make a trip to Sky Lodge for a final adventure together, but an ending had begun. The team was not unravelling–our experiences together had brought us too close for that. We will part but in a moment of reconnection we will be back in the Andes together with the bonds only a shared powerful experience can create. With but an eyes-closed recollection most of us may vividly recall any of a multitude of amazing and breathtaking moments along the path in Peru and those are the truest treasures, not the iconic summit or achievement but every mindful moment of possibility upon the journey.

The team climbs up the side of the cliff to the Skylodge.

The team climbs up the side of the cliff to the Sky Lodge. Photo courtesy of Tracy Pierce.

Finally, I cannot leave out the Sky Lodge experience. Scaling the 1800-foot cliff to our transparent pods was as adrenaline-laden an experience as imagined. Risks managed by the two clip system, we still faced overhangs, wire crossings, and endless stretches of steep climbs and sudden drops. It was exhilarating and to culminate in the dining pod which was open rock face behind and wide open view to the sacred valley everywhere else was… simply unique.

We celebrated our accomplishment and were served an incredible dinner by our guides from the comforts of that cliffside perch. We retired to our 4-person pods to sleep in comfort and while the remoteness was not as hoped since 1800 feet is an eternity upwards and yet so very little actual distance from the roads, trains and shops below us, the exuberance was slow to fade. Morning’s breakfast involved a brief climb to the dining pod and then the six-point zip line retreat. There was a speed line named the Arrow and a 700-meter line called the Beast, but all of the traverses of a cliff were surges of intense excitement to cap off the adventurous portion of our excursion. We all had at least one tandem ride and all grew closer still to share these things together.

My final reflection as it all came to an end is how glad I am to choose experiences with friends as a way of building the person I hope to become. I grew as a person to view the people of Peru, the wonders of their land and most especially our triumphs and struggles together to ensure we could all succeed as we did. For me especially there is a feeling of occasional burden upon those who choose to partake of these things with me and yet never did any of my friends hint at such a thing. Instead, they are the kind of people who help me feel that together we experience the situation more fully and more richly because our differences do not separate us but unite us in appreciation of a world with wonders worthy of that union.

 

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23 Sep 17

By Randy Pierce

One of the recent benefits I found through the work of Future In Sight came with an outstanding technology seminar. I have the training and skills to live a meaningful and successful life for certain and still believe that we put an ever brighter Future In Sight when we keep our mind open to the many developments which can help us along the path. When I was invited along with more than 40 other sight impaired clients to attend an AIRA technology demonstration, I had only heard rudimentarily about this new product and service. The more I learned, the more impressed I became and so I was eager to join many in taking the plunge to sign up and experience the possibilities.

Woman using AIRA, wearing Goggles with a caption on the screen greeting herWhat is AIRA?

You can certainly visit their website for detailed information including their own excellent video demonstration of all aspects of the project. As I’ve just recently begun working with my own unit, I’ll share my early understanding and experience as well as commit to checking back with you in a few months to report on the progress.

It begins with a pair of smart glasses containing a 4k video camera with high resolution photo ability as well as a wifi hotspot generator to provide data transmission for the unit. These are paired with my smart phone through the AIRA application so that at a time of need I connect to the service as what they call an “explorer” (if they only knew!) to one of their O&M (orientation and mobility) trained agents at a remote location. Their agent has a computer dashboard with access to the camera view, GPS information, profile information I’ve shared on best practices and information for me.

Typically I’m wearing an “ears-free” bone conductive bluetooth headphone which allows me to hear all the ambient sound around me and communicate with my phone and the agent smoothly. They introduce themselves and inquire how they can help. It may be that I’ve encountered a handout I simply need scanned and emailed to me, or I may have been stopped on the sidewalk by a construction pit where my travel route normally would have been. Whatever the challenge I’m facing, their ability to act as my eyes allows us to interact enough to resolve many interesting challenges seamlessly.

Want to pick out raised hands for the Q&A at a school presentation? No problem! Want to find that lost ball I tossed in the bush to Autumn’s frustration? Want to read the information on the treadmill after my run? How about navigate my hotel room while traveling on my own and learning the layout? There’s so much it can do for me and I’ve only just started to scratch the surface.

A few key points I want to highlight about this excellent service. First, it is a business and so there is a cost for it monthly and while they and I hope to have that become more and more efficiently managed, the initial explorations are promising. I especially want to applaud the price they have arranged for veterans. They act as our eyes and not as our brains so we are responsible for judgments and safety — they merely provide us with additional information. They won’t be replacing Autumn or my cane, but finding ways to act in conjunction to make us more efficient.

So if you see me wearing some new sun glasses and perhaps talking to myself, I’ve probably not added new challenges to my world but rather new solutions, and I encourage you to come talk to me about it. I’m excited to learn just how much more of the world I can explore with this new technology, which is why it joins me for the expedition to Peru!

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17 Sep 17

Photo of Randy at a fancy table at Peak Potential superimposed onto a photo of the Skylodge with mountains in the background.

Don’t leave Randy hanging! Join him at Peak Potential.

By Randy Pierce

One of my responsibilities each year is to encourage our community to join us for this event which is essential to our success. We got off to a great start with our Boston Marathon table sale burst, but we slowed over the summer. Now deadlines are approaching and I really need another burst of ticket sales, whether table (our best value), pairs, or individuals; all will help us step towards our goal of a sell-out and the success this brings.

Imagine my relief if I return home on September 29 and discover we’ve reached our goal?! I encourage you to help make this happen and I commit to ensure this event will be spectacular once again.

When: November 18, 2017
Where: Courtyard by Marriott in Nashua NH
What are we serving? Your choice of:

  • Balsamic Marinated and Grilled Medallions of Beef, finished with a Cabernet Wine Reduction and Chipotle Hollandaise Sauce
  •  Sage and Raisin Bread Stuffed Chicken Breast finished with Maple Brandy Sauce
  • Wild Mushroom Ravioli Semolina Pasta filled with Portobello and Crimini Mushrooms, Mozzarella and Parmesan  Cheeses, tossed in a Rich Roasted Red Pepper Cognac Cream Sauce
  •  Salmon Smoked Spice Rubbed and Pan Seared, topped with a Warm Pineapple Salsa
Steep outdoor stairs in a Peruvian ruin

If Randy can navigate these to demonstrate Ability Awareness, will you navigate our ticket purchase?

We absolutely love our venue at the Nashua Courtyard by Marriott and so did our guests last year. Whether you are staying overnight to join us from afar or just traveling for the evening, the venue is wonderful in all respects. I will not provide a back-flip off the stage this year(!), but I will provide a new presentation bolstered by our expedition into South America.

We have many exciting things to share with you and as always the most important aspect is the great work we can do thanks to your support. We have presented to more than 60,000 students in schools throughout New England and that number continues to grow steadily. We support critical sight services and we do this all with an entirely volunteer team who come together once each year in this grande event.

So please do join us for the 8th Annual Peak Potential Dinner and Auction on November 18!

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