Archives - September, 2013



28 Sep 13

By Randy Pierce

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”

– John Lubbock

Gem pool at Mt. Washington. Photo courtesy of Tracy Pierce.

We seek serenity in myriad ways, and for me it is both in the seeking and the reflection from which I find tranquility. I’ve been asked many times to define the allure of the mountains for me. I’ve asked many the same question and the answers vary from person to person; I find they frequently vary within me as well. In fact, on a single journey into the mountains I often find myself tending several of the experiences which strengthen my spirit. This moment of reflection I dedicate to tranquility, for the recent news of Quinn’s diagnosis of cancer has been storming upon me and I know I must find my calm within the maelstrom.

I recall a moment in the mountains, resting upon the side of the trail. My eyes are closed, as this strangely seems to heighten even my awareness of my other senses. There’s a deep earthy scent surrounding me and my back is pressed against the softening remains of a tree blown down by storms long past. Above me, I hear light stirrings of winds playing through the leaves while distantly the higher summit gusts swirl with greater force to sound a symphony of separate swirls in this vast wilderness. I send out my senses to them and dance a bit with the grandness inherent in this vastness.

Slowly, ever so hesitant, I draw back my focus to the gentle babbling of a small stream nearby. I allow my consciousness to flow along the sounds of trickling water until it smooths into what I know must be a tranquil pool. There I rest with the calmness and marvel at the gifts surrounding me. I tend the lessons of this forest before returning to the voices of companions on the trail with me. We rise to shoulder our packs and test ourselves further yet already stronger for the respite.

Many are the moments of reflection and experience from my journeys. The challenge is to choose to reach out for them when it may seem the world demands are full focus in a less than pleasant present. Each moment we have is so very precious I hope to always find the balance for both building and testing my strength. I wish for all of you the very same.

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21 Sep 13

I'm ready for my close-up!

Tales from the Tail Wagging Quinn here! Today, I thought I would update you on my retirement planning. Don’t worry though! I’m in absolutely no rush to collect the golden dog dish with retirement any time soon. I am, however, working on other career opportunities! I have a real modeling gig on October 19 for a fashion show, “Windows to the Wild” on NHPTV will carry on my TV star work, and here I am working on my writing career just in case post-Guide Work is necessary.

While many of you celebrate your eventual (or recent even) retirements, it’s often spoken in hushed terms around me – as if I didn’t have super keen hearing to catch all those details anyhow. While I’m still feeling reasonably young and spry despite the occasional creakiness when I rise after long naps, I am getting older in Guide work terms. The average Guide Dog retires between the ages of 8 – 10 and I will be turning 9 in December.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s SUPER QUINN!

How does retirement work for a Guide Dog? Well for now I’m pretty enthusiastic about our general work. I admit that trudging Randy around inside meeting rooms isn’t always my cup of kibble. Out on the streets or better still up on the mountains I am entirely eager to be guiding still. When as a general rule I’m less interested in doing this work, I will slow down and stop frequently as a sign I’m getting tired of the work and thinking about retirement. I don’t recommend you try this at home, mind you, and in fact I’m not quite ready to show this yet either. When I am finally ready, that’s how it will happen.

At that point, Guiding Eyes for the Blind will likely come up and check me out just to make sure it’s not some other issue which could be addressed. If I make it clear I’m ready to retire, we make a big decision about where I will live for the rest of my leisurely Charlee-Bear ™ filled retirement. First option goes to a Guide’s blind handler and in my case Randy and Tracy have already told me I’m a part of the family forever! Sadly for many Guide Dog handlers, their situations don’t make this possible and while there might be some small differences between Guide Schools, the approach is very similar. In my case, the second option is given to the original puppy raiser and for most of those cases the puppy raiser welcomes the retiring Guide back with open arms for a very happy homecoming. In the rare instances when this isn’t an option, each school maintains a waiting list of new humans who are hopeful to adopt an older, exceptionally trained dog who deserves a great home for their retirement years. Ultimately every one of us can expect a retirement in a good home with caring humans around us to thank us for the years of service.

So hold off for now on the retirement party plans and on purchasing my silver Nylabone (ewww). Do take comfort in knowing that every Guide Dog has a plan to ensure they are well loved and rewarded all of their lives. While even I, the Mighty Quinn, may eventually come to the decision to stop Guiding the big guy, I do have my writing to fall back upon and I won’t be going too far away from my many friends! So unlike Randy, I’ll be seeing you around.

Signed your tail-waggin’ wonder, the Mighty Quinn!

Dreaming of retirement? Maybe someday, but not quite yet!

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14 Sep 13

By Randy Pierce

Any one moment in our lives may hold the opportunity to make a world of difference for us or the people we encounter. Still, it may be incredibly difficult to recognize the choice to live sufficiently aware within the moment.

An early winter hike up Mt. Hale in 2012 provided a chance encounter with Greg Neault and Aaron Sakash. All of us were open enough to the whole of the experience that we became hiking companions and friends. Those two alone could provide many an inspiring tale and likely will–however, that’s a tale for another day. This blog will focus upon someone I met ultimately through Aaron.

In memory of Zach Tilbe, funds are being raised to help support Zach's wish to give back to the people who helped him and his family.

Andy Morse is running the Smuttynose Rockfest Marathon on October 6. I’m sure there is plenty of personal challenge and accomplishment ahead for Andy in this endeavor. I know a bit about Andy from our shared hikes and his tremendous support and encouragement of our 2020 Vision Quest efforts. What speaks more powerfully than I could ever hope to match is the reason behind his efforts and why I hope you’ll visit their page and give them as much encouragement and support as possible.

Zach Tilbe did not graduate from high school last year, though he most certainly was on the minds of all his classmates who honored his memory during their ceremony. He is undoubtedly on the minds of his loving family who face the incredible grief of his death from a terminal illness as they find the various means to cope with his loss from their lives.

How does one face such potent grief? They follow a bit of Zach’s example and attempt to take positive steps forward. Thus, Andy will be running for Zach Tilbe’s Heroic Hearts. Funds will go to ease the challenge faced by other children and their families while facing the most serious of medical challenges.

Most of us will hopefully never know so well the challenge faced by Zach, his family, or their many supportive friends. We all could and should know the power and benefit of community support we can provide each other. We are all going to face challenges–and whether we can set aside the distraction and reach out to someone else we in the face of our own experience is likely how we may best test the hero in our own heart.

I know only that I will honor Andy, Zach and his family in the best ways I am able, one step of which is to share this with you. That is only my first step and I hope I’ll be meeting many friends old and new along this path.

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7 Sep 13

Heading into our Fourth Annual Peak Potential Dinner & Charity Auction, we are very excited to have three of our top sponsorship slots filled already. Joining us are Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) as our Platinum Sponsor; and Bank of New Hampshire and Fairway Independent Mortgage as our Gold Sponsors. (Check out our sponsor page for more on what those levels mean.) As we celebrate these new partnerships, I’m reflecting on where we started and how we’ve grown.

When I first proposed the idea of a charity dinner to the 2020 Vision Quest staff, it was met with trepidation: Is it the right kind of event for our newly founded organization? Is it too high a ticket price? Do we risk losing money instead of raising it? Will our (then small but growing) audience appreciate this kind of event? How could we possibly put it together with our tiny volunteer staff? After much discussion we decided to plunge in.

Our first year’s challenges were what you might expect: Deciding on a budget that we could “risk” if it didn’t go well. Finding a hall that was right and within our price point (i.e., as close to nothing as we could get, while still providing an appropriate level of quality for the event we envisioned). Coming up with auction items. Scheduling where we were least likely to conflict with attendees’ other commitments. Getting people to buy tickets. Oh, and Randy and Tracy getting married a few weeks before the event! Sponsorships were just a dream.

For the hall, we lucked out by finding The Derryfield in Manchester. They have great food, a beautiful space, and supportive staff.

Friends of 2020 and local businesses rallied to provide an eclectic array of auction items, targeting an audience whose makeup was as yet unknown. Gradually, ticket sales crept up, a table here, a couple there.

A few weeks before that first event, I was gleefully able to tell everyone we were in the black! Every penny raised from then on would be direct to the charity instead of covering event costs. I let out a breath I hadn’t known I was holding.

By the end of that first Peak Potential dinner, we knew we had a success on our hands. People were telling us how much fun they had, how great the food was, how impressed they were by Randy’s presentation. We could feel it in our hearts–it was the right way to celebrate the year’s accomplishments with our friends and supporters of 2020 Vision Quest’s goals. It was a personal and fiscal success.

Year two ran even more smoothly and Laconia Savings (now Bank of New Hampshire) jump-started our sponsorships. We got to thank members of their team personally when they attended the dinner. But each year, we still have that holding-our-breath time as we wait to cross the threshold into actual fundraising.

Last year, year three, we had a new and exciting challenge: What happens if we sell out the event? This year, it’s a sure bet we’ll be full to capacity.

Our expenses are kept as minimal as possible: PR, credit card fees for registration, the hall rental, and our biggest one, the food itself. Planning and implementation of the event is done entirely by volunteers, and each year we’ve set our fundraising goals higher as teamwork improves.

The devotion of our volunteers and the enthusiasm and giving nature of our attendees is what makes our sponsors so important. Our goal is to put every penny possible back into 2020 and our education programs, allowing more schools to include Randy’s presentations about achieving through adversity in their curriculum. Sponsorships allow us to do just that. Subsequently, we support New Hampshire Association for the Blind and Guiding Eyes for the Blind as they drive someone to a much needed doctor’s visit, or help that person learn to walk with a cane, or provide them with a life-changing guide dog.

Each Platinum, Gold, Silver, or Bronze sponsorship we receive is one more success for the amazing group of people working so hard to help others.

Sponsorship also spread awareness of 2020 Vision Quest’s mission to people who may not yet have heard of us, and in the process, makes our supporters aware of the good work our sponsors do for their community. It’s community supporting businesses supporting community. A win all around.

Thanks again to DCU, Bank of New Hampshire, and Fairway Independent Mortgage, our Platinum and Gold sponsors for this year’s Peak Potential. We still have opportunities available–won’t you consider sponsoring this year?

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