Archives - June, 2013



29 Jun 13

By Randy Pierce

For the first time ever, we already have had three schools reserve us for presentations for the fall school year even as summer break arrives. Several camp programs are on the summer schedule and we plan to use the “slower summer months” (at least while we aren’t on a mountain trail) to provide a long overdue update to our For Educators page.

Three years and more than 26,000 students have enabled us to develop confidence in the value of our message for students of all levels. In fact, teachers, administrators and the students all agree that our message needs to be shared as widely as possible.

2020 Vision Quest is even more motivated to ensure this part of our mission continues. We are asking all of you to take a look at the For Educators page and share with us any and all suggestions you have for how we can improve it. Please do give us your thoughts, suggestions, and comments as we endeavor to elevate our school outreach better than ever before in the year ahead.

Even as we are asking this, we are working on the many updates we know the page requires, including a few Testimonials. To that end, I thought I’d leave all of you with some of the messages from which I keep myself motivated to this vital part of our mission!

Testimonial from 2013 NH Principal of the Year:

It was a pleasure to meet Randy, Quinn, and Christine on Friday at Woodman Park School.
A fantastic talk was given by Randy to at least 540 of our students that day.
The message of being able to do anything with perseverance, dedication, and help was a powerful one.

Sample Testimonial from Newmarket, NH:

This upcoming Monday the school does field day which is run similarly to the Olympics where they have a grand march with all classes choosing what their theme will be. Each class carries a banner and each student in the class carries a pennant which reflects something about the class theme. The parade goes through the school, out into the street (the police stop traffic because this is a big deal in Newmarket) and over to the nursing home where the residents sit outside to see it all.

Ann’s class chose their name and it is the Questers. They have a large banner with the name 20/20 Questers where each student decorated a cutout foot which is on the banner and 2 people will carry it to lead the class, just like the Olympics. Each of the individual pennants they will carry have a life lesson they learned from you. They each also have a tshirt that they made. The front has a blue globe on the chest with the outlines of 3 green mountains on the globe and snow on the tips of the mountains.

Testimonial from a Teacher:

I can’t tell you how much our kids and adults got from your presentation. Many many people came up to me to say how meaningful your presentation was to them. One upper school boy will soon be on your website and might contact you as well.
I also learned so much from your talk today, not only in content but also in your style. It was perfect for our boys. I will be certain to call you for a part 2 for next year.

Testimonial from a Student:

Dear Randy,
I really enjoyed your inspirational presentation at our high school yesterday. I thought that your story was incredible and very thought provoking. One thing that I loved about about your speech was that you made it relatable to us. Some students may have thought coming in to the assembly that the presentation wouldn’t mean much to them because they aren’t blind and don’t hike. You made your message much broader than that and was something we could apply to our own lives. The biggest thing I learned was that anyone can do almost anything if they really want to. Once you identify what’s stopping you, you can work around it and accomplish your goal, and you taught that to us with examples from your own life. Something that I would have loved to learn more about was your future plans. I found your dedication to teaching children fascinating. Overall I loved your presentation and think that your story is so inspirational.

Thank you so much for taking the time to come to our school.

Perhaps the final and best way for you to experience this is the way I did this year, hearing it directly from the students via their Randy Pierce Thank You after our visit!

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22 Jun 13

By Randy Pierce

Randy and Quinn: A dynamic duo!

Quinn is constantly providing amazement with his epic adventures and stalwart, handsome charm, but there’s much more to his story. Each and every day I marvel at the devoted and attentive manner with which he converts my traveling from challenge to experience.

Walking down the street with the “tap – tap – tap” of my blind cane requires me to put a fair bit of my focus into each tap to interpret the information it relays about surfaces, edges, and obstacles.

In each of these moments of focus, I miss experiencing the world around me. Just the simple walk to the bus stop becomes a 15-minute journey. As I encounter trash cans and recycle bins, the journey doubles in time and my interaction with the world around me dwindles still further.

Super Dog!

Quinn eagerly undertakes the hero role with the casual ease vision affords him. He frees me up to trust fully in him and allow my interactions with him and the world to blossom. This freedom has incredible significance to my happiness and is part of the incredible bond we share as a working team.

With him, that bus stop journey is reduced to five minutes and all of it is spent with my head up and my mind free to travel beyond the limiting bounds of the pitfalls and obstacles along the path. This is just a fraction of the gift Quinn bestows to me each and every day.

So while it’s easy to think of Super Dog Quinn when recalling mountain adventures or inspirational road races, it’s also worth reflecting that his best work is in the little steps we take day after day while we are living our more conventional lives together.

Quinn certainly loves challenge and adventure, but clearly what he loves most of all is sharing our lives and ensuring that every day is the day he makes a difference in the world. We could learn a lot from Quinn!

The Mighty Quinn: International Dog of Mystery and Man's Best Friend.

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15 Jun 13

By Randy Pierce

As we officially begin our fourth year of charitable service, I am tremendously proud of the support and achievement realized by 2020 Vision Quest. We have developed three primary points of emphasis which not only showcase considerable success but also tremendous hope for how much more we might accomplish if we continue to earn the trust and support of an ever growing community.

4th grade, Memorial School - Bedford, NH

1) School and non-profit presentations.We provide to any school or non-profit organization a demonstration and message of Ability Awareness, Achievement through Adversity, Teamwork, Communication and more. These have been exceedingly well received. In just three years we have reached an incredible 26,000 students in schools alone!

We feel strongly that these efforts are important in supporting our community, and we hope that these efforts will in turn encourage community support for our efforts, including the fundraising necessary for the second part of our mission.

2) Fundraising for the blind community. We allocate half of the net dollars we raise to the two organizations that have been most essential in helping me manage the transition through vision loss. Due to our incredibly supportive community, a hardworking staff, and the nearly tireless Mighty Quinn, we are proud to have just made a pair of disbursements to Guiding Eyes for the Blind and the New Hampshire Association for the Blind in the amount of $20,200 each! This was double the amount of what we could contribute last year and both organizations have expressed overwhelming appreciation for the results of our efforts.

I will certainly be striving to sustain such incredible support . As Quinn must sadly near ever closer to retirement from work, I even dare dream that one year we’ll be able to deliver a check which may match the cost of a Guide Dog to these organizations: $45,000. This will require much work and more tremendous support in growing our community and our fundraising.

3) Inspiring others to do their best. We hope through all of our efforts to help inspire others to strive for the very best of accomplishments for themselves and our world. While the results of this may be the most difficult to measure, the thousands of testimonials we have received suggest we have a very positive impact on our community.

Our Mission Statement is:

2020 Vision Quest inspires people to reach beyond adversity and achieve their highest goals — personal, professional, and philanthropic. We believe in leading by example, in climbing the highest peaks, and in sharing our successes and challenges with each other. Funds raised through these endeavors will be given to two remarkable organizations which benefit the visually impaired community: Guiding Eyes for the Blind, and the New Hampshire Association for the Blind.

Peak Potential 2012

Right now I’m delighted to celebrate three years of accomplishment and to heartily thank so many for having helped us achieve so very much already. I am similarly excited to announce the official launch for our Fourth Annual Peak Potential Charity Dinner and Auction. This fantastic celebration is also our largest fundraising event.

Ticket sales have officially begun! As our thanks to the many friends of 2020 Vision Quest, those who purchase an 8-person table by August 24 will enjoy an extra savings. So whether you are signing up to join us, helping us acquire quality auction items, or simply helping us share the news of our event or mission, we welcome all the support you can provide as we attempt to continue the great work of 2020 Vision Quest.

Last year we sold out the event. We hope you’ll attend and help us achieve that again this year!

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8 Jun 13

By Randy Pierce

I’ve accomplished some lofty goals and expect to keep reaching high. I don’t have words to express how overwhelmingly incredible I found the accomplishment of four-year-old Matthias Vescelus.

Matthias lost his vision due to cancer when he was still a baby. When he was only three, he set a goal to participate in the Reebok Spartan Race in Indiana when he turned four. In doing so, he began to solve the problems necessary to demonstrate to the world the power of possibility for those who believe they can achieve! My words will not match this video and I simply hope you find it as inspiring as I did.

Matthias’s picture 

Video of Matthias running the Reebok Spartan

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1 Jun 13

By Randy Pierce

Old Man of the Mountain, 1911

It was my intention to begin our final hiking season with a bang–and starting on Cannon was the ideal first shot. Cannon is where we ended our single season winter quest and is for many the heart of NH as the home of the Old Man of the Mountain. His immense craggy profile collapsed ten years ago in a massive boulder slide. An iconic image gone from the world provided some reflections even as our crew began part one of our epic cross-notch journey!

Six of us set upon the trails a little before 9 a.m., knowing the first stage of the day was only 4.4 miles along the Northeast Kinsman Ridge Trail. It’s a reasonably steep trail with respectably challenging footing in many locations. This presents two challenges and the clear sky and unseasonably warm temperatures added a little unexpected heat to the mix as well.

 

Friendship on the trail

John, Dan, Cathy, Tracy, Randy and Quinn share a moment on the bench on Cannon Rim Trail

Still, the sounds of laughter made clear how quickly the mountains may overshadow other challenges of a normal day and help to guide us back to a serenity rare in other places. Jimmy Buffett would call it a “Latitude Adjustment” and Dan Gagne prefers “Altitude Adjustment” though the results are rather the same. The majesty atop East Cannon’s ledge is spectacular and the Lafayette ridge across the notch dwarfs most other considerations quickly. It was daunting to consider that later that day we’d be on the edge of that ridge having hiked both sides of the notch in a single day.

With that sobering thought, we packed away lunch and hiked to the rim trail. We took special note of the bench honoring all these mountains share to those who open themselves to such. An all-too-brief climb of the summit tower let us descend the still slightly icy trail that separated us from the next stage of our commencement hikes. Reaching the bottom is usually the end of a day, but we had only set the stage to make our launch more epic and worthy of our 2020 Vision Quest goals!

Quinn guides Randy up Lafayette

Greenleaf hut sits above 4,000 feet on the shoulder of Mt. Lafayette. The Old Bridle Path winds reasonably steeply with several sections known as the “Agonies” for good reason! Many of our crew departed and one new member joined us. Ultimately, three of us and the Mighty Quinn would undertake the next phase.

We had feasted and hydrated as best possible as the lower elevation heat remained respectable. As the path worked into the Walker Brook Gorge, we all noted how quickly the sounds of traffic fell to the mountain’s solace. It was our latest start ever for a mountain, but we knew that only 2.9 miles separated us from the hut and the rest we would need for Sunday’s Ridge walk.

While we already had obtained the summit of Lafayette several times, its neighbor across the ridge, Mt. Lincoln, was still necessary to reach our original goal of summiting all 48 in the non-winter. There is no direct ascent of Lincoln by trail and so a loop over Lafayette delivers the reward of an incredible ridge while adding very little to the total mileage. In fact, by adding in the hut stay we made our Sunday goal less than our Saturday work. Perhaps “less mileage” is a better description than “less work” since our final traverse through Falling Waters would prove to be the most difficult stretch of trail to date in our project!

We reached the hut as daylight was fading and not without some difficulty from weary legs and tired minds. The final scramble over the Agonies had drained me significantly and in hindsight a touch of heat stroke may have been at work. While my counterparts celebrated later into the evening, I trusted water and sleep to rejuvenate me for the next day.

The crew at the summit of Lafayette

Sunday began leisurely with much of that intended rejuvenation achieved. There was a good breakfast and much water before idyllic temperatures enabled a 7:40 a.m. start up the summit. Rising quickly above tree line, we reached the summit of Lafayette ahead of schedule and with views beyond the expectations of the team who had been told to expect an overcast day. Those views and perfect temperatures would continue for the entirety of the mildly challenging ridge walk over Mt. Truman and then up to Lincoln’s pointy peak. A brief summit celebration for our 38th peak obtained was short lived because the most challenging part of the entire weekend ordeal was still ahead.

Down into the col and across the knife edge of the ridge, we then strode up to Little Haystack and found the turn for Falling Waters Trail. Most choose to climb up this difficult, steep, slippery, and narrow trail and the reality of our choice was quickly upon us. True to trail reports, icy coatings on the steep upper section required a little traction for best risk management.

Randy takes a break to reconnect with an old acquaintance met on the trail

It was still slow going and required all the human guide skills and my own mental efforts. We traded out guides to allow for needed mental rest but my own concentration was tested repeatedly. Each greeting of a hiker heading up past us was a welcome mental break but always the miles ahead needed our attention. By the time the slope had eased considerably, we had reached the series of cascades and waterfalls which–while beautiful–provided a different style of challenge with slippery slab steps, narrow-edged ridge walks, and nearly endless tricky footing.

As the five stream crossings required yet a different bit of work for my blindness, it was not surprising that physically and mentally the day slipped a little closer to gruelling than ideal. But perseverance has its place; the rewards of what we had experienced were probably foremost on our minds after the final bridge crossing was achieved and we knew that officially only ten peaks remain in our quest.

While that might be dramatic enough to culminate our epic first weekend, there’s one further detail deserving of our attention. It wasn’t the many friends encountered along the trails either from our new community of hiking friends, or the encounters with folks on trails repeated often enough that acquaintances have begun. It was instead the smell of a grill and fresh steak tips and the surprise of finding my wife had set up a glorious tailgate of food and beverages to revitalize the most weary of hikers. It was the glorious moment of sitting in a comfy lawn chair and removing bruised and battered feet from the confinement of well trodden hiking boots and socks! It was revelling in the overall accomplishment and the potency of loving support.

The journey held many wonders and inspirations for me and our mission. Ten more peaks await this summer and I believe we’ll achieve our mission. It won’t be easy nor assured but with good friends, my faithful though aging Quinn, and a lot of perseverance, we will celebrate with another tailgate on August 24 and I hope many more of you may be there to revel in the experience with us!

A  spectacular view from the Cannon Lunch Spot

A spectacular view from the Cannon Lunch Spot

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