Archives - March, 2011

28 Mar 11

by Randy Pierce

Inspiration is deeply personal, and when the Outside Blog introduced me to Ryan Levinson as their “Chief Inspiration Officer,” I was rewarded with a moving and motivating tale. I’ve written past blog posts on my inspirational sources, which are many and growing. I encourage you to visit my latest inspiration.

Ryan delves into sharing the internal struggles derived from his challenges without any pretention about the relative aspect of challenge. We all are likely to have challenges that can surge, at times, into an overwhelming force. Ryan excellently expresses the dichotomy between achieving through adversity and the reality of internalizing those powerful responses. This is something I am very familiar with, and perhaps that is part of what called to me most in his post.

Randy's inspirational moment with a Grey Jay.

Along with some descriptive prowess, there is a core message from Ryan’s post that resonates within me. The value in anything we attempt has less to do with the undertaking and more to do with our ability to appreciate the moment. The better we can become at finding appreciation in the moments we experience, the more each experience we craft or encounter is likely to help us soar to new heights of true experience.

2020 Vision Quest is always looking for inspirations to share and to personally experience the merit of such. Please feel free to share any inspirational gems you encounter, and let us know when one we’ve chosen to share has connected with you.


21 Mar 11

by guest blogger Kim Kett-Johnson

“Sight lets you see where you are right now; vision lets you see where you are going.”

Randy speaking at Peak Potential

I heard my friend Randy Pierce, Founder of 2020 Vision Quest, say this quote in an interview this past December and it has really stayed with me. I have posted it as my Facebook status and tweeted it. It really puts in perspective for me how Randy chooses to live his life with his blindness, always looking towards what could be done instead of dwelling on what might be a challenge to do. I have known Randy for 25 years. I have known him sighted, and without sight, able to walk and move around with ease, and known him when he was confined to a wheelchair. I knew Randy would not be confined to anything for long. Randy’s tenacity and bold joie de vivre have always made people stand up and take notice. Notably, the New England Patriots organization, the NFL, HBO, WMUR TV, and too numerous to mention radio stations and people in the blogosphere who all want to hear what he thinks is going on right now and what his vision is on any number of topics. Randy is sought after for his intellect on a variety of subjects, and this, I believe, is because everyone who meets Randy takes something away from the meeting that makes them feel good about themselves. Randy just has that way about him.

All of this background brings me to the purpose of my post today. About a year or so ago, I learned that Randy was starting a charity organization. I wasn’t at all surprised that the man who feels, even in going blind, that he has been given so much that he would like to give back to others. From there, 2020 Vision Quest was born, the brainchild of Randy and his amazing wife Tracy (behind every man is a good woman.) Through their collaborative efforts to get it going, the true vision took off, and Randy and his guide dog, the Mighty Quinn, prepared to climb all of the 4000+ foot peaks in New Hampshire by the year 2020. All to raise money for the charity.

One of the highlights of last year, for me, was attending the first annual Peak Potential Dinner & Charity Auction. Besides helping to support the great work of 2020 Vision Quest, it was so wonderful that it brought many of our old friends together. One group bought a table, and I had part of another table with a different group of friends. We all got together to have a couple drinks, eat great food, and be together. We bid against each other at the auction, both silent and not so silent, and we reminisced and decided that the night was just like a party in college since we were all together — except we had better clothes and better hair, (some MUCH better hair, some not so much hair at all.)

At the event, we were fortunate enough to hear Randy give a presentation about 2020 Vision Quest and the work the organization has done, as well as what he has accomplished with the Mighty Quinn. This included their numerous hikes and climbs, and speaking engagements Randy (and Quinn) have given to schools and other organizations on behalf of 2020 Vision Quest. Randy has given 2020 Vision Quest not only vision, but also a voice.

A great time was had by all and I am looking forward to attending this year. I have no doubt that more friends will attend, now that they know what a great time it was for all of us who attended the inaugural event. So make sure to “Save the Date” for next year’s event on Saturday, November 12th, for which planning is already underway. Put it on the calendar, get a sitter if you need to, bring your friends, drink, bid, and just be with people you care about. Not only will you just have a great time, but you can support a wonderful organization and take advantage of being able to get to know my friend Randy Pierce, a man who I think has true vision.


14 Mar 11

by Carrie McMillen

Our 2011 hiking schedule has been posted!

Last year, we had many unknowns and challenges as we started out on this grand adventure. Our experiences were vast – we dealt with a few (luckily, minor) injuries on the trail, we made a decision not to summit a certain 4K due to timing and safety, we camped in the backcountry and we were part of the Flags on the 48 atop Mt Liberty. We had ups and downs, physically and emotionally, and I think we can all agree that it was the culmination of all these experiences that has left us feeling richer and more comfortable with what is to come.

Mt. Adams ascent

So what exactly is to come this season? If you check out the schedule on our hiking home page at, you’ll see that our goals this year are BIG. This year we’re dusting off the training wheels and going for the gusto!

Our 2011 plan is to summit 16 4K summits by the time snow flies next winter. Yes, we may be a bit ambitious and perhaps even a tad crazy (we did five in 2010). However, we are starting the season much earlier and increasing our efficiency with multiple day trips, allowing us to summit several peaks on a weekend. Here are a few of the highlights we are looking forward to:

Owl’s Head in mid-May – Our first hike of the season will test those camping skills not to mention some stream crossing doozies, as the spring runoff season will have peaked. It’s a good thing Quinn likes water and Randy has those gaitors and Teva water shoes.

Partial Pemi Loop – This will be Randy’s longest overnight backpack trip this year, but will be supported by hut accommodations. Last year, he climbed a few of the Pemi mountains with a UNH group and faced some of the hottest temperatures on record and it proved to be a few of the most grueling days of his life. We are hoping for much more manageable weather this year!

Adams and Madison – For anyone familiar with the Northern Presidentials, you’ll know that Mt Adams is an enormous pile of jumbled rocks at the top and Quinn will not like it one bit! For the sighted, this mountain is a challenge because you are boulder hopping on slanty rocks and it’s easy to slip. For the 2020 group, this will mean some slow, careful hiking supplemented with human guides (I think I might also try to sneak in some kneepads into Randy’s pack).

Carter Range – This hike will be another 3-day trip (like Adams/Madison) taking advantage of the AMC hut system we love. The concerns here are trying to summit 3 mountains over the course of one weekend along with some incredibly steep terrain. I hope that since this trip is later in the season, we’ll be faster, more efficient and better versed in the terrain.

So feel free to follow along via our website and via the Spot GPS as we hike throughout this summer – we plan to have information on each hike, both before and after the trips. Moreover, as we move into summer, we’ll also be asking the community for any terrain advice for our upcoming trips. Stay tuned!


7 Mar 11

by Randy Pierce

Dogs and cats, monkeys and rats, snakes and spiders, and many more were flocking to public places like a legendary ark. People want to know what a “service animal” is. What is the legal right of the “pseudo-service animal’ in the USA?

As a guide dog and guide dog owner, Quinn and I have protected access to almost all public accommodations, thanks to the ADA. What many people do not realize is that the ADA has changed the definition of a service animal effective this month. Previously, any animal could allegedly be trained for service, and the nature of the service provided was vastly undefined. As with most rules, people began to provide a broad array of interpretations and sadly, abuses began. This made things difficult for many business owners and tarnished the hard-earned reputation of legitimate service animals. To protect those business owners and to prevent the erosion of the public trust, the ADA has released new rules and definitions that take effect on March 15, 2011. They have allowed only dogs as service animals, which is a major and significant change, though they have suggested that the miniature horse (dog-sized) should receive reasonable consideration. This change comes with some benefit and sadly some detriment, though the real question is, does it accomplish the goal of ending abuses?

A person handling a service animal must have a disability listed on the ADA website, and while that list may grow, it is far more restrictive than the purposes for which they are claimed. As such, the first question of protection for the public is, “Do you have a disability?” It is of significance that the type of disability may not be requested. The second and final question is “What task is the animal trained to perform for you?” This means that an animal must specifically perform an action that aids in that disability. The ‘emotional comfort’ claims, which represent a large portion of fraudulent claims, would not fit into this definition without a little more rule twisting.

It saddens me that extensive fines (up to $55,000.00) exist for places denying access to those with disabilities, yet no punitive measures exist for those propagating a fraud. A bogus Service Animal Registry website exists online today, and continues to ‘sell’ alleged legitimacy. Mock Service Animal vests and harness systems are similarly available for purchase and yet there is no punishment for the sale or use of these. It will be difficult to bring benefit from any change, and this fails to discourage attempts at abuse. Fortunately, any animal that is behaving inappropriately may be requested to leave, so long as this behavior is handled consistently for anyone, human or canine, who is performing it.

I absolutely wish anyone with a legitimate need and benefit from a service animal could have access to that service in the best means possible. I would hope that all such situations require an animal trained to behavioral minimums and require very reasonable consideration of public impact. A Seeing Eye elephant or even Irish wolfhound would have a size impact that seems ridiculous, especially since a ‘curl under my chair’-sized retriever can perform the same function. This is not to say that I believe only a dog is acceptable as a guide, or even that only that size frame can be considered. The challenge is finding something reasonable in a world where too many people are not looking at those terms but rather their own preferences first.

I have encountered many frauds and even have friends who seek to break the rules for their own purposes. I know there are needs more diverse than I could possibly evaluate, and I appreciate the incredible benefit Quinn brings to my world. I advocate on a regular basis for all sides and perspectives, to give very serious and reasonable consideration to all choices and impacts of those choices. I hope some of you may give some serious consideration to and communication on the topic. Education and communication can do much, but action can reduce or prevent deliberate and willful abuse by those who deny service that is required or those who deliberately attempt to fool the system.


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