Archives - October, 2013



29 Oct 13

We originally posted this last year around Halloween, and we think it’s still relevant for this year as well. Happy Halloween!

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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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19 Oct 13

By Randy Pierce

“Failure is often a matter of perspective” — Jonathan Abrams

Randy and Quinn running the Boston Athletic Association 5K in April 2013

At a recent keynote for the New England YMCA Fall Leadership Conference, I received the following request: ”With so many successful achievements, I was wondering if you could talk about a few of your failures.” I have no hesitation in sharing the reality of many failings along my journey. I think that more powerful is an awareness that more often our notions of failure are primarily a matter of perspective. I simply do not see a lack of success as failure, especially if there are reasons to understand why success was not attained and how it might be achieved in the future.

One of my first reflections was our inaugural 2020 Vision Quest Hike of Mt Washington which some might have termed a failure, but we capture in a short film we call “Blind to Failure.” Our goal was to climb to Lake of the Clouds for an overnight stay, followed by a summit and descent of Mt Washington the following day. Our real goal was to safely undertake this expedition, learn as much as possible, and be prepared to continue forward based on all that we learned. We did reach the summit and the film really explains the reasons some might term it a failure.

 I have been staging towards another goal recently which is to run the Boston Marathon next year. 2020 Vision Quest did not receive charity access despite valiant efforts by several people including Stephen Pierce and Sarah Toney. I’ve been training to run the qualifying marathon which I hoped would provide me the opportunity to run anyhow. The rigors of the hiking schedule followed by Quinn’s health concerns have impacted the plans.

I had planned to run the Bay State marathon on October 20 but knew it was going to be a stretch. I recently made the choice to pass on that plan. This doesn’t mean Boston next year is impossible, but it does become considerably less likely. Whether I find the right opportunities to continue towards that goal or whether I take a full additional year of preparation to make it come true in 2015, the goal remains and the journey is always emphasized over the destination. So if you’ve heard the rumblings of my plan to run the Boston Marathon 2014 and wonder if I think I’m about to fail, I say that depends upon your perspective. I’d say there’s plenty of steps on the journey ahead and I’ll celebrate all of them, even the required steps backward to ensure I’m firmly on the right paths for the real success I seek!

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11 Oct 13

By Randy Pierce

In the mountains of truth, you never climb in vain. Either you already reach a higher point today, or you exercise your strength in order to be able to climb higher tomorrow.

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900)

Quinn takes a some time at Guiding Eyes to recuperate from his illness.

October 2013 brought tremendous challenge to the Mighty Quinn and his family. When strange hesitance to use his mouth in play became more clearly something awry, we brought him to the vet. Investigating this problem they discovered a spindle cell cancerous tumor on his left front leg and he had surgery the next day.

All the while, healing evaluations of the jaw difficulty continued to worsen and be explored. The constant pain and an eventual inability to eat or drink quickly led to Quinn being brought to the best possible care and treatment possible: Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown Heights, New York. Here their top notch vets and attentive, caring, and loving staff made Quinn a temporary home for full evaluation and treatment. It meant Tracy and I would need to leave him in their care and return to a very empty seeming home.

We received reasonably regular updates on his progress from the medical diagnosis of his likely polymyositis to discussion of all reasonable treatment plans. We even caught some personal moments such as his stepping out with his original trainer(!), Chrissie, for a morning walk. He paused, pointed his nose off towards the nearby parking location where Tracy and I had parked with him. He attempted to air scent, searching for us and gave a low whine. Our boy was feeling some of the same longing and love that we experienced away from him. Heart-wrenching to hear but heart warming as well.

“No Home is complete without the patter of dog feet” – unknown

Quinn possesses a mighty presence indeed and the vacant hollow feeling of his absence is ever present without him in our home. I miss him foremost as my friend and partner for our day-to-day interactions. The comfort of our routines starts with the eager morning greeting which calls me from my bed each morning. I talk to him throughout my day, curl him into my lap for a grooming session which soothes each of us, and a hundred other little events which are part of my every day. These hollow hurts are likely understood by many and certainly are the foremost in my sadness.

His working world is such a constant life integration, I’m somewhat ashamed to admit how many subtle aspects of his work I’ve grown to take for granted. When weaving tables in a restaurant a cane feels like such a cumbersome club banging each chair or potentially even people as it finds and adjusts my route which was clearly designed for a sighted step to navigate. Asking friends and family to consider an elbow for sighted guide can often lead to a feeling of dependency I’d forgotten was so potent. Even the simple act of aiming towards a well known point becomes a series of attempts and adjustments which Quinn would have made simple.

Suddenly my mind is turned to all the details of daily navigation where once it was free to focus on the world around, the preparations for a work project or the joy of sharing a world with a loving friend beside me. All these are significant–and coldest of all the changes is the social isolation that comes from a cane, which seems to flee from the world when a tail-wagging pup is beside you. “Nobody ever asks to pet my cane” doesn’t come close to expressing the silent stares I feel in front of strangers who likely would have asked about Quinn but now fumble with their own silence uncertain how to bridge the gap they perceive between my blindness and their world.

I love Quinn for the warmth and wonder he brings into my life. I love him for the Guide work he so proudly performs. I love his courage, confidence, and dedication to all things including play! I love him for his ability to warm an uncertain world of strangers and I love him best of all for the joy and love of life which he expresses for himself.

I do believe the expert staff of Guiding Eyes and their commitment to the health and happiness of all their dogs will soon ensure that Quinn may return into our world. I have, however, had too much of a taste of what life without Quinn may mean and I take solace that for me, that is hopefully many years from now. I am reminded very powerfully of how fortunate so many of us are for the incredible gifts Guiding Eyes bestows upon their graduates month after month after month. Thank you to a most wonderful and worthy organization!

We're anxious to be back together again!

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7 Oct 13

By Randy Pierce

I believe strongly that the positive impact of our school presentation is an essential mission. We work towards building a better future by inspiring students of all ages to believe in themselves, set goals, problem solve, and achieve through adversity. Testimonials from teachers, administrators, and students themselves confirm that our message and delivery resonate with a lasting inspiration. Our anecdotes and techniques highlight an approach which changes lives.

We are proud to have provided our presentations to more than 27,000 students as of September 2013 and yet feel more determined there are many more students who would benefit from our program. We encourage parents, teachers, and administrators throughout New England to continue the great referrals of our program.

Specifically, I want to remind all of our Massachusetts community that Fairway Independent Mortgage (Needham) has generously undertaken a partnership to ensure more students throughout Massachusetts can receive our presentation. Along with their continued support of 2020 Vision Quest, they are assisting in coordinating schedules and transportation to make this possible. You can find more information on our Fairway Partnership in our initial announcement. (We are also pleased to have Fairway as a sponsor for Peak Potential, our annual fundraising event in November.)

You too can help in this process through a variety of means. We encourage all of our community to share our information with any school or group you feel would benefit from our presentations. We also welcome you to share their contact information with us if you prefer we reach out to them. There is always opportunity to support all of our efforts and most especially our core mission of outreach for education. The choice you make may very well ensure more students gain the insight to improve the future we all share. Thank you for your help and support!

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